MARK 12:28-34


Life of Christ #50


It is good to get close to doing something positive. We usually make progress towards a decision before we make a decision.  It is tragic when we get close to doing the right thing and never do.


We return to our series in the Life of Christ.  It is the last week of Jesus’ life, probably just a couple days before he died.  He had been approached by the Pharisees, Herodians, and the Sadducees in the Temple with two questions, one about paying taxes to Caesar, and the other about the resurrection. These groups were trying to trip Jesus up so they could accuse Him, but they couldn’t trip up or ensnare Jesus in His own words, because he is God.


Finally, the religious legalists of the day, the Pharisees, sent forward one of their own to question Jesus.  This man was different from the typical, legalistic Pharisee, who wanted everything done to the letter of God’s laws or man-made interpretations of those laws.


This scribe, a copyist and expert in the Jewish religious writings, ended up being close to the Kingdom of Heaven, far closer than most of the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day.  Perhaps you will find yourself to be like this scribe, close to the Kingdom of Heaven, but not necessarily in it.




The first two questions that had been asked of Jesus were ones designed to trip Him up and get Him condemned or censored.  The first question involved taxes. The second involved resurrection.


This question was of a different nature.

First of all, notice that this scribe had listened to Jesus’ encounter with the Sadducees.  He was well pleased with the answer that Jesus gave to a very difficult question.


This question was not a trick question.  It was an honest question Which is the first commandment of all?


With all the “laws” that were available it was significant to know which one was the most important, or on which ones were all the others based, or how they could be summarized.  It is good in religion, as well as most aspects of life to have priorities.


The Scribe heard Jesus answer well, so he asked an honest question that was not only important to Him, but to the Jewish religion as well.


You will notice that on the first two questions of that day, Jesus rebuked those asking.

When He was asked about paying taxes to Caesar, He responded, Why tempt ye me? (Mark 12:15)


When He was asked about the resurrection he said,

Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. (Matthew 22:29)


This man received no rebuke because it was an honest question.

I am encouraged that when I have sincere, honest questions, that God does not rebuke me for asking. In fact God encourages sincere, honest questions especially when we are going through trials. James 1:5


A HOLY ANSWER – Vss. 29-31


Vs. 29 – Jesus had an answer, part of which was actually very familiar to the scribe. We would say that it was “right under his nose.”


Verses 29-30 were part of the “shema”, quoted by pious Jews in their worship both morning and evening. It is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and is an affirmation that there is only one God. The word “shema” means “hear”.


Vs. 30 – God wants to be loved.

And just as a husband wants the total love of his wife, and a wife wants the total love of her husband, God wants the total love of His creatures.


God wants our love for him to go beyond human love for a husband, a wife, a relative, or a friend.  God wants our love for Him to be superior to our love for any person, and activity, any thing. Luke 14:26-27


We should take seriously the warning of Exodus 34:14 - For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:


And if you are a Christian, you realize that Jesus is setting a standard that you have never attained.


To love the Lord our God the way described would mean that you would have to keep the first four of the Ten Commandments perfectly. Exodus 20:2-8


In fact, it is because nobody has kept this commandment to love God completely that Jesus came to earth.   

There is only one human who ever kept this commandment perfectly, the Lord Jesus, the God Man Himself.


I believe that Jesus wanted this scribe to realize that he had not kept this commandment and was in need of help.  Jesus would point to Himself as the one who would die for the sins of not loving God the way one should. 2 Corinthians 5:21  


Vs. 31 – Jesus gives a second commandment.

Not only is a person to love God completely, he was to love his neighbor as himself.

This was a quote was from Leviticus 19:18 - Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.


Jesus is showing that loving our neighbor was part of loving God.  If we don’t love our neighbor, we don’t love God.   


And again loving our neighbor as ourselves is summed up in the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:12-17


In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus made it clear that undue anger was equivalent of murder and lusting after a woman was the equivalent of adultery. Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28  


Jesus’ summary of the God’s Law was complete.

It was forceful.

It is convicting.   




Vs. 32 – This Scribe was special.  He was not like so many of Jesus’ enemies who were constant opposition to Him.

He was a breath of “fresh air”. His response was very positive.


The scribe exclaimed, “Well said!” or “Beautifully said!”


He then explained why he agreed with the Lord Jesus.

The stunning thing about this man is that, although he was a part of a group which wanted to destroy Jesus, he was open to the truth, and willing to acknowledge it when he saw it.


May we be equally willing to approve of the truth when it is expressed to us!


Vs. 33 – He also acknowledged that the moral law, our love commitment to God and Man was more important than any sort of animal sacrifice. That was the ceremonial law.


He was not discarding the animal sacrifices.  He was simply prioritizing as to what was most important.

Our love for God and man is more important than any sacrifice we could make.




Jesus announced that this man was “not far” from the Kingdom of Heaven. That means that he was very close.

·       He accepted Jesus teaching intellectually.

·       He recognized the love for God and for one’s neighbor as the ultimate fulfillment of the law.

·       He was being honest and not hiding behind the legalism he had grown up with.

·       He obviously respected the Lord Jesus.


He was close to the Kingdom of Heaven.

There may be some of you who are close to the Kingdom of Heaven.


·       You’ve heard the Gospel, perhaps all your life.

·       You acknowledge that love for God and man is ultimate.

·       You may acknowledge that you are a sinner and that Jesus died for the sins of the World.


So, what did this scribe have to do to go from being close to being in?

He had to admit that He couldn’t save Himself.

He had to turn to Jesus by faith and trust Him as Lord and Savior.

He couldn’t rely on His own law keeping or law keeping plus Jesus.

He had to trust Jesus explicitly. John 14:6, 3:16


It was good that the man was close.

It is good if you are close to the Kingdom.

But being close to the Kingdom is not being in the Kingdom.

You need to trust Jesus as your Savior!




The scribe was a good man.

The scribe was leaning towards Christ.

The scribe was close.

But here’s a horrible thought.

Unless this man placed his faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, for as close as He was, He didn’t make it.

John 3:16-18, 36


2 Corinthians 13:5 - Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith…


The scribe was close.


A HOLY ANSWER – Vss. 29-31