“How much farther?” the child asked. “Not far,” his dad answered as he drove.
The disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, “not far from the land” (John 21:8). But “not far” is used in a spiritual as well as in a spatial sense.
Once a scribe asked Jesus, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered that loving God with all your heart comes first, followed by loving others as yourself. The scribe heartily agreed, adding that love of God and others “is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
“When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’” (Mark 12:28-34; see Matthew 22:34-40).
Unlike many of his fellow Pharisees, he had a clearer grasp of what mattered most (Luke 11:42). To stand with Jesus could cost him the favor of his peers (John 12:42-43; Matthew 23:13). Would this unusually perceptive Pharisee be willing to buck the establishment and enter the kingdom?
But still not there
James Burton Coffman has written, “‘Not far from the kingdom . . . .’ Alas, this is the epitaph for many. Men behold, in some glorious burst of apprehension, the majesty and truth of the Son of God; but the road of acceptance is rugged, being blocked at every milestone with difficulties and opposition” (Commentary on Mark, ACU Press, pp. 235-236).
If you are “not far,” then you are close. But “not far” is not in. One can be close, yet remain outside. One can believe but still lack the blessings that come with obedient faith (James 2:14-26; Romans 1:5; 16:25; John 3:3, 5; Mark 16:16).
Don’t let his happen to you! If your convictions really line up with the Scriptures, act on them—now!
Then instead of being “not far from the kingdom of God,” you’ll be all the way in!
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/
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