" You Are Not Far From the Kingdom of God
“You Are Not Far From the Kingdom of God”
Taught by: Pastor Carolyn Sissom
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Mark 12: This whole chapter is an instruction of the Kingdom of God. Jesus has been teaching in parables on how he is going to set up the gospel church; now he begins in parables to show how he would lay aside the Jewish temple.
They that enjoy the privileges of the visible church, have a vineyard let out to them. “A certain man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge about it, and dug a place for the Winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen for the fruit of the vineyard.”
These are God’s tenants from whom rent is justly expected. Those to whom the Lord lets out his vineyard, he sends His servants to minister. (Verse 2) “At the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard, and they caught him, and beat him, and set him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another and they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.”
It was no wonder if those who abused the prophets abused Christ himself. God did at length send them his Son, (Verse 6) – “Having yet therefore one son, his well beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, ‘They will reverence my son”. But those husbandmen said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.’ And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.”
Instead of reverencing him because he was the Son and heir, they hated him. They were the more enraged against him, and determined to put him to death, that all the respect might be paid to them only: “The inheritance shall be ours.” If they had reverenced the Son, they would have received a heavenly inheritance.
“What therefore, shall the Lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and give the vineyard unto others.” This was fulfilled in taking the gospel to the Gentiles, and the abundance of fruit which the gospel brought forth in the entire world. (Col. 1:6) “The truth of the gospel which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and brings forth fruit, as it does also in you, since the day you heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.”
Their opposition to Jesus’ exaltation shall not stop the spreading of the Gospel. Neither shall the spirit of anti-christ, Pharisees and Sadducees in the world today be able to stop the gospel going throughout the whole world.
Jesus told them three times in this chapter that they were in error because they did not know the scriptures. Here he says, “You have not read the scriptures; ‘the stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?”
They knew he spoke this parable against them. They sought to lay hold of him, but feared the people.
They went on their way. They got out of the hearing of such powerful preaching. If men’s sins and prejudices are not conquered by the evidence of truth, their prejudices are confirmed. If the gospel is not a savor of life unto life, it will be a savor of death unto death.
In Verses 13-17, the Pharisees tempted or attempted to ensnare Jesus about the lawfulness of paying tribute to Caesar. Christ knew their hypocrisy. Hypocrisy, though ever so artfully managed, cannot be concealed from the Lord Jesus. He sees the potsherd that is covered with the silver dross. He knew they intended to ensnare him, and He turned their questions so as to ensnare them. This is a principle that will always work when we are today dealing with the religious spirits of the Sadducees or Pharisees. When they ask you a question to trick you, turn it with another question. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
In Verses 18-27, “Then came unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; they were not bigots and persecutors, but skeptics and infidels. They were out to attack his doctrine. They denied that there was any resurrection, any world of spirits, any state of rewards and punishments on the other side of death. Those fundamental truths which they denied, Jesus Christ had made it his business to establish and prove. Therefore they set themselves to perplex him.
It is common for those with the spirit of the Sadducees and heretics to perplex and entangle the truth. In verse 24, Jesus answering said unto them, “You are in error, because you know not the scriptures, neither the power of God!!!!! For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise; have you not read in the Book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke unto him, saying ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: You therefore do greatly err.”
A right knowledge of the scripture is the fountain from where all revealed religion now flows, and the foundation on which it is built. Keep the truth, the scripture truth, and it will keep you. It is absurd to think that God’s relation to Abraham should be continued and recognized if Abraham was annihilated.
Those that deny the resurrection, greatly err, and ought to be told so.
Verses 28-34: “And one of the Scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, which is the first commandment of all?
Christ gave him a direct answer to this question. He asked the right question and got a clear answer. Those who sincerely desire to be instructed in the Way of the Kingdom of God, Jesus will guide in judgment and teach his way. He tells him:
“The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, o Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord” If we firmly believe this, we will love him with all our heart. If he be one, our hearts must be one with him, and since there is no God besides Him, no rival must be admitted with him upon the throne of our hearts.
“And the second is like, namely this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
We must love God better than ourselves and we must love our neighbor as ourselves. Has not one God created us? Has not one Christ redeemed us? In these all the law is fulfilled, and if we follow this, all other obedience to the other commandment will follow due course.
Unlike the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Scribe comes into agreement with Jesus. Christ approved of his answer and told him an amazing truth. (Verse 34) “And Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, ‘you are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And no man after that dared to ask him a question.” The Kingdom of God is Joy, Peace and Righteousness in the Holy Ghost. In this place with the Lord is the Kingdom of grace and glory. We are not told of what happened to the scribe, but hope that He became a member of the Gospel Church.
There are many today who are not far from the Kingdom of God, and yet never come into the Glory. In the whole crowd, those that desired to learn were ashamed to ask, and those who were evildoers were afraid to ask.
Through this time of questions and answers Jesus shows the people how weak and defective the scribes were in their preaching and how unable to solve the difficulties that occurred in the scripture concerning the Old Testament.
They told the people that the Messiah was to be the Son of David (V. 35). And they were in the right. Yet they could not tell them David called His Lord , My Lord. “For David himself said, ‘by the Holy Ghost, the Lord said to my Lord, sit you on my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
“How then does David call Himself Lord?” “Those are unworthy to sit in Moses’ seat, who though they are able to preach the truth, are not in some measure able to defend it when they have preached it, and to convince gainsayers.”
Now he really has them angry. So he goes ahead and nails that nail in a little harder. He tells the people:
“Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts; which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: they shall receive greater damnation.”
They coveted applause, and were fond of it. To have this attention given them, they thought expressed the value they had for them, who did know them, and gained them respect for those who did not. We still have this foolishness going on in churches today. Iniquity, thus disguised with a show of piety, is double iniquity, so its doom will be doubly heavy; “They shall receive greater damnation.”
I wonder today as we see these same religious spirits manifest in the churches of the 21st century if people do “err” because they, like the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Scribes do not know the scriptures. I knew I had a “Call” to preach. I decided that if I was called to that, then I best read the whole Bible.
I am equally surprised that the people “lift up” those who magnify themselves. However, it is not the fault of the people, it is the failure of the ministry and for this failure Jesus says, “They shall receive greater damnation.”
In closing, let us read verses 41-44. The Lord has shown this “Little Sanctuary” of people known as Little White Church over and over in the light of “a certain poor widow”. I have seen you give time and time again that we by Faith do the impossible except by a miracle.
This past week one of our members gave a sacrificial faith offering. I believe it has been received by the Lord as the “widow’s mite”. This church body has sown into these conferences and given to the servants whom the Lord has sent time and time again giving our “all” in love and by Faith. We have never come up short one penny. We owe no man anything but love. Our church in times past has given the “widow’s mite” to host these awesome conferences. In return, we have received the Lord’s best.
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury; and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and said unto them. “Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow has cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury; For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.’
It was a good sight to see rich people charitable. Many would have scolded the poor widow for giving away every thing she had. I learned long ago. If I have $20.00 and I need $2,000.00, the best thing for me to do is to give the $20.00 for it won’t do me any good any way in view of a much larger need. Jesus requires according to what a man has, and not according to what he has not; two mites shall be put upon the score, and brought to account, if given in a right manner, in the same way as those who give hundreds. It is much to the praise of Jesus that we give not only to our power, but beyond our power, as the Macedonian churches, whose deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.
We will never out give Jesus. For those to whom the Lord has privileged and allowed you to give the widow’s mite, great shall be your reward. It is a place in Christ, where once you have given it, and then you will always give liberally with an open hand. It is so sweet.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries, Inc.
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Scripture is from King James Version with text from Matthew Henry Bible Commentary. Comments and Conclusions are my own.