“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared asked him any more questions.”
It is evident that Jesus is excited for the man in this passage. Jesus judged, by the man’s answer, that he was near the Kingdom of God; which meant that the likelihood of him entering the Kingdom was greatly increased. Nevertheless, we can spend our whole lives living ‘near the Kingdom’ but never enter in to it! I want to take some time to look at two men who lived near the Kingdom; one made it in, one did not.
In John 3:1-2 were are introduced to a man named Nicodemus:
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one can perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Nicodemus was a religious church- going man and member of the ruling council. Surely this man was ‘in the kingdom”! Yet Jesus replies to him:
“I tell you the truth; no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
You mean this man’s church attendance, moral life, adherence to scripture, position in church leadership and sincerity towards God wasn’t enough? Jesus said to him again in John 3:5:
“I tell you the truth; no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”
This leads Nicodemus to ask in John 3:9: “How can this be?”
How are we born again? According to John 3:16-18, we simply must believe on God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ! We cannot enter into God’s Kingdom without putting our faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus declared in John 14:6:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Nicodemus eventually came to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He lived close to the kingdom for a very long time, but it was not until he received Christ that he stepped through the door into God’s grace.
Pastor Scott Burr