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Not Far From the Kingdom of God.

Not Far From the Kingdom of God.

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Published by glennpease

— Mark, xii. 28-34r.

— Mark, xii. 28-34r.

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Published by: glennpease on May 18, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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OT FAR FROM THE KIGDOM OF GOD.BY WILLIAM ADAMS, D.D.And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoningtogether, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him,Which is the first commandment of all ?And Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is,Hear, Israel ; the Lord our God is one Lord :And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and withall thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is thefirst commandment.And the second is like, namely this. Thou shalt love thy neighboras thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.And the scribe said unto him. Well, Master, thou hast said thetruth : for there is one God ; and there is none other but he :And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding,and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighboras himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him,Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after thatdurst ask him any question. — Mark, xii. 28-34r.The Triam/aer in whicli the most weighty truths werotaught by the Son of God deserves our special regard.Instead of bare and arid propositions, we have, veryfrequently, living forms, representative examples. Indi-viduals, such as l^icodemus; the rich young ruler, aparagon of morality ; the scowling scribe ; Mary Mag-dalene, who was a penitent sinner; the thoughtfuldoctor of the law, and many others, representing each aclass of the human species, are brought into the pre-OT FAR FROM THE KTOI^OM OF GOD. 383sence of our Lord, and the conversation wliicli followsstands for all time, as a precedent and a law. In the
ew Testament, accordingly, we have not only a seriesof precepts, but a moving panorama of living charac-ters, who come in contact with Jesus Christ, proposetheir questions, receive their answers, and pass along,giving place to others ; but their questions and answersdo not pass away with them, but remain forever, therecord of spiritual truths in a living form.The incident now before us will illustrate my mean-ing. Here was a man who was pronounced by ourLord to be " not far from the kingdom of God." If,now, we shall be able to understand the very postureof the mind here introduced and described, we shallvery readily solve the question — whether we ourselvesare near to or remote from the kingdom of heaven.The individual here referred to was a scribe, an eccle-siastical lawyer, learned in all questions pertaining tothe religion of his country. As it appears from thenarrative itself (and the method of procuring the truestereoscopic impression of the whole scene is to collatethe language of the several evangelists who have re-corded it), he was a listener to what had occurredin Christ's conversation with other parties. TheHerodians, designing to entrap him, had just askedhim a question concerning the payment of tribute4:0 the Roman government. Immediately after this,tlR^ Sadducees proposed to him another question con-cerning the resurrection. Both parties received ananswer, but an answer so smooth, so adroit, so discreet,that they were transfixed on their own dilemmas.They were baffled and silenced, so that they did notdare to ask him any more questions. The scribe,who next appears in view, a spectator of tlie scene,seems to have been struck with the peculiarly neat,PSl THE EW YORK PULPIT.wise and unanswerable language of onr Lord. Itevinced an accurate knowledge of the Scriptures. Wish-ing to ascertain more of this extraordinary stranger, andto improve the opportunity for solving certain matterswhich had long been upon his own mind, he now stepsforward, and proposes a question to our Lord, for him-self. His purpose in so doing, we must believe, was
honest, his disposition was good. Matthew, indeed,says, that the lawyer asked the question "terrvptinghim." But a very slight acquaintance with the lan-guage of the ew Testament, satisfies one that the wordthus rendered is used in a good sense as well as a bad.If in some instances it obviously imports a malignantdesign, such as solicitation to evil, or ensnaring onein mischief, in others, it is used, just as obviously,in the general sense of proving one for the purpose of ascertaining his opinions and character. Beyond all ques-tion, this was the intention of the individual now beforeus. There was no malign purpose in his hea.rt, for, hadthere been, our Lord never would have said that he wasnear to the kingdom of God. Convinced that the manwho, in his hearing, had just before refuted the Herodiansand the Sadducees so cleverly, must have still fartherknowledge of the Scriptures, and wishing himself toobtain information pertinent to his own profession, he alsoasked a question which was intended to develop thecharacter of the man in whose presence he stood.Tlie question proposed was this : " Master, which isthe first commandment of all ?" To redeem thisinquiry from the appearance of frivolity, it should beborne in mind that this was a point long mooted by theJewish teachers, whether the law of sacrifice, or the lawof circumcision, or the law of the Sabbath, or the lawof the phylacteries, should have the precedence. OurLord answered the question thus proposed, by recitingOT FAR FROM THE KIGDOM OF GOD. 385sentences wliicli were written in the j)liylacteries them-selves ; the compendium of the moral laAv. Taking nonotice wliatever of those disputed questions concerningthe ceremonial law, he reliearsed at once the substanceof the divine statute which epitomizes all morals : " Thoushalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and withall thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thystrength. This is the first commandment." And thescribe exclaimed : " Master, thou hast answered welVOur English word well does not exhaust the meaningof the Greek KaXcjg — beautifully — excellently — convey-ing the high satisfaction which was felt with that reply.It was an answer which corresponded to his own judg-

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