Of all the people that had come to question Jesus, there was one that seemed to be impressed with what Jesus had to say. And so he asked Jesus,
Of all the commandments, which is the most important? (Mark 12:28)
The most important one…is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these…All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Mark 12:29-31 and Matthew 22:40)
In other words, if you keep these two laws, to love God with everything you have and you love your neighbor as yourself, you will have kept all of the laws. All of the laws are summed up in those two commands.
The man questioning Jesus answered,
Well said, teacher…You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Mark 12:32-33)
This man was unique among the other Pharisees and teachers of the law in that he understood that it was not enough to be ritually clean. He understood that to please God meant going beyond the letter of the law to the spirit beneath it, to love God and to love others. And if you don’t do these two things, all the “righteous” things you do are worthless.
When Jesus saw the man understood this, he said,
You are not far from the kingdom of God. (Mark 12:34)
Notice he didn’t say, “Good job. You are now part of the kingdom!”
Rather, he said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
What was this man lacking? He was lacking one further insight. That none of us keep these two commandments perfectly. And because of that, we need a Savior. Once this man realized that and put his faith in Jesus, then Jesus could say, “Welcome to the kingdom.”
And that’s what all of us need to realize. None of us are good enough to earn our way into heaven. Because no matter how hard we may try, all of us fail in loving God or loving others in one way or another.
That’s why Jesus came. He died on a cross to take the punishment for our sin. He then rose again three days later, and if we will put our faith in him, then and only then will we be saved.
Have you done that? If not, will you do it today?
Lord Jesus, I realize that I have sinned. I have not loved you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And I haven’t loved my neighbor as myself. Instead, I have hurt you and others through my actions. Forgive me. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sin and taking my punishment. Now come, and be Lord of my life. In Jesus name, amen.