How Far Are You From the Kingdom of God?

When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared question Him any longer.     Mark 12:34 HCSB

To understand what Jesus is saying, we first need to understand what was going on. In Mark 12:28 the scribes approached Jesus and tried to trip him up. They asked Him what was the most important commandment? They were hoping He would slip up and say one was more important than the other. Silly scribes, they should have known they were no match for Jesus, but there was a lot of things they didn’t know.

Jesus answered by saying that the most important commandment was to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This covered the first four commandments which speak of our relationship to the Lord. He said the second was like it in that we were to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This covered the remaining six commandments which speak of how we are to treat others.

The scribe then tells Jesus He has answered correctly. I’m sure Jesus was thrilled for his vote of confidence. He goes on to tell Jesus that these commands are more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices. Jesus then confirmed that he was correct. And goes on to say, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” What does this mean?

Perhaps you have heard it said that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Being close to the kingdom of God is not being in the kingdom of God. In order for us to spend eternity in heaven, we must be in the kingdom of God while we are here on earth. How do we do that? Well, we draw near to God and God will draw near to us as we are told in James 4:8.

We confess our sins to Him and repent. We earnestly ask Him to forgive us of our sins and He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We must admit we are a sinner; we must believe in Him and confess our sins to Him. Then we must answer His call to salvation. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus was pointing out to this scribe that he understood the law and the commandments. He understood God wanted obedience more than he wanted burnt offerings and sacrifices. The problem was he didn’t understand He had to love and obey the only One who could grant his entrance into the kingdom.

Jesus said in Revelation 1:18, “…I was dead, but look-I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.” In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father except by Me.” The only way to get in is through Jesus. He holds the keys.

You could actually be in hell and be not far from the kingdom of God. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar, the rich man went to Hades and the beggar went to heaven with Abraham. The rich man saw Abraham a long way off and called out to him (Luke 16:22-24). He was close enough to see him and call out to him but was still a long way off. He was close but yet so far away.

To get into the kingdom we must love the Lord more than we love our Sunday morning golf games or sleeping in or taking our new boat out or our new car for a drive. We must love the Lord more than we love our sin. We must choose to spend time with Him in Bible study and prayer. We must devote ourselves to honoring Him, worshipping Him and praising Him. We must serve Him.

Jesus holds the key to the kingdom. Only total surrender to Him will get you in there. Trust in Him today. Love Him with all your heart and obey His commands. He is waiting to welcome you with open arms.

Have a great day!