Close… But Not Close Enough – Mark 12:28-37

By John Bellingham on May 29, 2016
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Close… but not Close Enough

Mark 12:28-37

I.  The Great Commandment (vv. 28-34)

1)     A Trick Question (v. 28)

  1. The next group in line to confront Jesus with a question were the ‘Pharisees’ (cf. Matt 22:34-35)
  2. The Scribe who comes forward on behalf of the Pharisees seems internally conflicted
    1. The question itself was designed to ‘test’ Jesus – Matthew 22:35
    2. The Scribes liked to debate which of the 613 Laws in the Torah was most important
    3. Secretly, this Scribe was pleased with the way Jesus had just answered the Sadducees

2)     A Wise Answer (vv. 29-31)

  1. The Pharisees hoped that Jesus would say something incriminating to go against Moses
  2. Jesus answers by quoting Moses’ most beloved words – the ‘Shema’ (Deuteronomy 6)
    1. The ‘Shema’ is a Creed, summarizing Israel’s fundamental beliefs:
      1. Monotheism – only one God
      2. Exclusivity – wholehearted, covenant devotion to Yahweh
      3. Discipleship – duty of parents to teach their children to know and love Yahweh
    2. The ‘Shema’ was repeated during morning and evening prayer by observant Jews, and was a part of synagogue liturgy
    3. The ‘Shema’ was physically worn on the body in leather boxes called ‘tefillin’, and mounted on the doorpost in a box called a ‘mezuzah’
  3. Jesus answers by quoting Leviticus 19:18
    1. Our love for God is expressed through our love for people who bear His image
    2. Jesus expands the common Jewish understanding of ‘neighbour’ to include one’s enemies- Luke 10:25-37
    3. The two halves of Jesus’ answer summarize the Ten Commandments  (Exodus 20:1-17):
  • Commandment 1-4:  Love for God
  • Commandment 5-10:  Love for People

3)     A Near Convert (vv. 32-34)

  1. Jesus’  Biblical answer has gained this Pharisee’s sincere admiration
  2. The Scribe is near the Kingdom, but not yet in it!
    1. He is a Monotheist
    2. He affirms the Commandments of God
    3. He understands the primacy of love for God over religious activity– 1 Samuel 15:22
    4. Problem:  He does not know Israel’s Messiah or see his need for a Saviour!

II.  The Great Question (vv. 19-23)

1)      The Last Question of the Day Belongs to Jesus

  1. “After a day of questions comes the question of the day.”  – Ralph Martin
  2. Jesus’ question exposes a flawed view of Messiah that was common among the Scribes
    1. The Scribes believed that the Messiah would be a human King just like David
    2. Jesus quotes King David (Psalm 110) to prove that the Messiah of Israel is no mere human – He’s David’s Lord!

2)     The Implication:   If you want into the Kingdom, you must first know and love the King


– Genuine love for God must undergird and support everything else in the Christian life

– If you don’t have love in your heart for people, you cannot have love in your heart for God!  (1 Jn 4:20-21)

– When it comes to salvation, being close to the truth is simply not good enough!  Any belief system that does not acknowledge Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life is not a belief system that can save us from sin.

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