“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

Continuing the stream of questioners, Jesus’ interlocutor today (Mk 12:28-34) comes from the scribes.  This man asks Jesus which commandment is first.  And Jesus gives him the first of the Ten Commandments as expounded upon in Deuteronomy (6:4).  For good measure he adds a second: love your neighbor as yourself (Lv 19:18).  The scribe lauds Jesus answer and expands upon it, concluding with the assertion that doing what they discussed was “worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (v. 33).  Jesus approves of this insight, concluding His remarks with the words at top.  No more questions are asked.  Jesus’ final words to the scribe are those that we want the Lord to say to us.  Why was the scribe not far from the kingdom?  The unedited first verse of this passage gives us insight: “One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?'”  Not only did he ultimately answer Jesus “with understanding” (some other translations have “wisely”) (v. 34) but he came in with a sincere heart recognizing that Jesus answered his opponents “well” in the sense of His knowledge of God and men.   So the scribe came to Jesus as he came to the scriptures: with a proper disposition open to knowing the truth.  So we have his example to follow.  Understanding (and wisdom) come from approaching Jesus and His word (that is Jesus himself) with a proper orientation (humility is key) asking for the gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom and understanding are the first two — see Is 11:2-3) to pursue sincerely the truth which God wants to convey to us.  Unlike the Jewish religious leaders who persecuted Jesus by twisting scripture and reading into it what they wanted, this scribe’s heart was open to the fullness of truth the Lord imparts in His Holy Word.  If we love Jesus we want to know Him better.  He has revealed much to us so that we can do this, even two thousand years after He trod the earth.  May we be inspired to read the Bible often, pray over it, meditate upon it, and study it with the guidance of the Church.  Then we will be properly “equipped” (2 Tm 3:17) to approach the Kingdom and bring others with us.

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