28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12: 28-34; NKJV)
Today the sermon at South Macomb was a continuation of our working through the four gospels and focused on lessons in Mark 11 and 12. There were many points to be made but I wanted to focus on a section found in chapter 12. I encourage you to read the chapter as I am not going to lay down much background but want to focus on this encounter between Jesus and the scribe. I want to attempt to paint a picture in your mind that was given today and then keep that image in our mind as we work through this week.
The image I want to paint is of a safe place, a dangerous place, and someone caught in the middle. You might have your own version of this, but I am going to offer one of my own. Imagine you are in a building and a battle rages outside with gunfire and explosions all around. There is a group who is safe in their reinforced concrete bunker, with no windows and made to survive the kind of chaos and destruction going on. They are safe, but someone cracks the door to see what is going on and notices a young man running down the street…unarmed, confused, scared, looking for shelter…to be safe and live. The one looking out also notices he is wearing the wrong uniform…the uniform of the enemy. Even more, the one looking is wearing the wrong uniform in the eyes of the man outside…the clothes of his enemy. But the one inside calls out to him anyways…beckons him to come and be safe. He hears the call and he sees the caller and even starts making his way to the door. He is hesitant and unsure what to do as he gets closer. What if it is a trap? Even though the bunker gets him out of the gun battle going on outside and everything he has been taught about fighting tells him this is a secure place…how does he know what is inside is safer than outside? Still the call goes out to him, encourages him, tells him it will be safe. Others from inside gather with the one and join and shout this same message of safety…of friendship…of hope. He comes closer and it is clear he really wants to live and wants to be safe and wants to believe that he can be inside the bunker. He is right there…just a couple more steps and he will be in and safe and can live. Everyone calls to him but he stops…he looks at them…they want to grab him but the bullets are flying and they can’t quite reach him…if only he would take one more step…but he stops. Now he is out in the open and all the danger of the situation is upon him though he is only a step or two from safety…he is unsure, and he hesitates. Surely he was about to come those two steps…they sure want him to…but a bullet hits its mark and he is gone. It is too late…he was so close to safety…the caller was there to save him…they had a place for him to be safe…they called out to him…they wanted him with them…but his hesitation…his lack of faith in the caller’s intentions, their actions, and the offer left him just a couple steps too far from being saved.
I know you get the point. So let me just end today with this. I want us to look at these kinds of situations from three perspectives this week. Jesus is the one calling out. We are the ones who join with hHim to encourage. Those in the world or those of our brethren who are astray are the man in harms way. You saw that coming right? But don’t stop there. Take another look. Jesus is still calling out, our brethren are still joining in the call, but are we the man in harms way? That could be a likely scenario…right? Could it be that it depends in any given situation or stage of our lives or the lives of others? Read chapter 12. Paint this image in your head. Meditate and pray about what we can do about those 2 last steps…whether we are in harms way or with Jesus calling others to safety. Take some time and work that over in your head and heart and let’s see what we can learn and apply this week. I love you all…and thankfully Jesus loves us more.