Read: Mark 12:28-34
Love God. Love neighbors. Love yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31
Not quite so fast. Not because I’m trying to add words to Jesus’s very clear answer here, but because I want to step into the shoes of the man who had the opportunity to ask one question of Jesus face-to-face. What question would you ask? What would I ask?
In this case, the Jewish leader is a teacher of the law. He’s no doubt invested his life in understanding the Torah, searching his heart and mind to not only become the man he believed God wanted him to be, but to be a better teacher, the calling for his life.
Given the chance of a lifetime, he finds himself in the enviable position to ask Jesus the clarify something for him. We know the rabbis of the day had hundreds of laws and rules, so many that it was no doubt a challenge to rack and stack them, keep them in order, etc. Modern day lawyers can appreciate this much more than I can.
What’s really refreshing about this interaction is that this man sincerely wanted to know the answer. He wasn’t trying to be clever, or at least it seems that way from his response to Jesus. The snob in me has read this differently in the past. Verse 32 starts, “Well said, teacher…” and I puff up my chest and say, you’re ___ right, this is Jesus answering your silly question! But that is not what Jesus says, not the way our savior reacts.
Take a moment and breathe in the words of Jesus as He listened intently to the man’s response:
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Mark 12:34
The man reiterated Jesus’s words while I believe Jesus looked into his eyes and focused all attention on his body language, his poise, letting go of his prominent position to move from knowledge to wisdom. Jesus sees his heart and approves with incredibly gracious words. In my imagination, I see Jesus grabbing him by the shoulders, smiling, looking directly in his eyes and saying, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Oh my, that scene is so surreal. Can you imagine? Linger there for a moment.
If you had one question, what would it be?
I pray that we would ask questions and listen like the man did in this passage, that we would receive the assurance that Jesus came and died for us to appreciate. Jesus has the answers for those far from the Kingdom and those who’ve been adopted for years. Lord, help us to listen to Your answers.