By Robert Halsey Pine
“When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’” (Mark 12:28-34 NRSV).
A scribe asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus had just made several Sadducees speechless in a discussion that they thought would put down the idea of resurrection. Seeing that Jesus had answered the Sadducees well, the scribe asked his question and fully agreed with Jesus’ answer. Jesus recognized that this man was moving closer to God.
What can we learn from these men, the Sadducees and the scribe? Those who wanted to get rid of Jesus were always challenging Him and trying to trick Him into saying the wrong thing. He was a threat to their rules and beliefs. For the scribe, Jesus was right where he was headed. Jesus’ teaching made sense to him because he himself was getting nearer to the kingdom of God. How are we sometimes like these Sadducees?
That which Jesus teaches is sometimes a threat to us. There are many aspects of our lives, which knowing God better through Jesus hampers us. We’re comfortable with our little sins and our selfish ways. Jesus is a wet blanket to us. He ruins our fun. He interferes with our need to collect toys. Like the Sadducees, we try to twist what He says and trick Him with our devious ways. The truth is that when we try to avoid our Lord to maintain our status quo, we only fool ourselves and make camp with the devil.
When we are on the path to God’s kingdom, there is no reason to try to fool God. Would we trick our guide in the wilderness so that we get lost? God is in all things forever. He never gets lost. He can never be fooled. Human egocentricity is formidable. It creates the “self made man.” It has killed millions and millions of people. It has built many great structures. When God has had enough, he can simply make it rain too long. Just as it was on the great man-made ship the “Titanic,” there won’t be enough lifeboats. Just as it was in Noah’s time, God let him alone know and prepared him only.
God always wins. How does He win? He wins in the beginning. For He loved us into creation, He loves us in our natural life, and He loves us forever. We might as well give up and be loved.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.