TUESDAY, AUGUST 6
SCRIPTURE: Mark 12
BY: Josh Boles
Mark 12 is broken up into several different stories so we simply do not have enough space to cover the whole chapter. Reading through the Gospels you will notice that religious leaders would gather and do their best to trick Jesus with theological question and it never really seemed to end well for them. Despite this they continued to prod at Jesus with the hope to make Him stumble. Mark 12 has it’s fair share of these stories with 5 different accounts. The one I would like to focus on is verses 28-34 because it offers us something a little out of the ordinary.
If you glance back at Mark 9, 10, and 11 there are also several accounts of these prodding questions. Here in verse 28 we see that one of the scribes took notice that Jesus answered the questions well, so he wanted to ask a question. This is our first clue that this account is different from the ones we have read so far. This is indicative that the scribe’s question was not out of a malicious intent, rather out of amazement of the teachings of Jesus. In other words he was catching on to the idea that Jesus was in fact the real deal.
We see the scribes question at the end of verse 28 and is very similar to different accounts throughout the Bible, but Jesus’ response here is different than those other accounts. Perhaps Jesus answers differently because He knows the scribe’s intent is not of pride but of humility. In other examples such as Luke 10 Jesus simply quotes the Law but here He recites the first line of the Shema. The Shema was a prayer that the Jews were to recite every day to show their love and commitment to the One True God. This is very important in this account because Jesus was not out to simply give a response to the question but was connecting on a spiritual and emotional level with the scribe.
Next we see in verse 32 that the scribe agrees with Jesus’ answer instead of continuing to poke and prod which is again indicative of the scribe’s intent for the conversation. When the scribe responds to Jesus he again quotes the Law but at the end states that these two commandments “are far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Jesus response to this is most interesting. After Jesus notices that he had answered correctly he said to the scribe, “you are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And then at the end we read that nobody wanted to question Jesus anymore, perhaps because they were convicted and ashamed at Jesus’ words.
I believe the statement of being “not far from the Kingdom of God” deserves more of our attention. The scribe knew all the right things to say, and knew all of the right things to do. In fact a Jewish scribe would have been highly educated and would have known more about the Bible than just about any Biblical scholar today, but still he missed the mark.
So why did the scribe miss the mark? And why do so many churchgoers today fall short? Again, we know that being in the kingdom of God is not simply about rituals or knowing the right answers. A man can have all the head knowledge in the world about the Bible and still fall short of the kingdom of God. The key is not relying on our head knowledge or Christian rituals but a changed heart. The only way for that to happen is a life of repentance and intimacy with God. The only way to do this is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what was missing from the scribes answer. I would love to go back into time and see what happened next in the scribe’s life but we simply do not have that information. Perhaps he repented and turned to Jesus like Nicodemus did in John 3, or it is very possible that he continued to keep living his ritualistic life.
I think one thing we can take away from this is that we really only have two options in life, to be intimate with the Lord or not. I believe every action, word, or thought we will ever have will stem from either one of these options. If we do not live a life of repentance and intimacy we will live our lives going through the motions pretending to live for God’s kingdom but actually living for ourselves. If we experience daily repentance and intimacy with Jesus, then immeasurable blessings will flow from that relationship. The greatest blessing of all is the kingdom of God. I encourage you to take a moment today and be intimate with the Father. Thank him for His son Jesus Christ and spend some well deserved one on one time with Him today! Not simply so that you can know things about Him, but that you will know Him!