13 March 2013

As Cindi read

today's second reading from Treasury in our morning prayers, it occurred to me that maybe I've misunderstood it. The scribe drawn to Jesus by the controversy over the resurrection with the Sadducees asks Him about the Great Commandment. Jesus answers with the twin commandments. And the scribe approves: "You are right, Teacher. You have truly said HE is one, there is no other besides HIM. And to love HIM with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as one's self is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

Jesus responds to this with: "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

The distance, though, is in the pronoun. For the kingdom of God was closer than the scribe imagined. It was there in the flesh standing before him. Oh, if only the scribe had had the eyes to see. NOT "HE is one" but YOU are one. Not "there is no other besides Him" but "there is no other besides YOU." Not "to love HIM with all the understanding..." but "to love YOU with all the understanding!"

And to drive to this point, Jesus asks the next question: the Christ, whose Son is he? David calls Him 'Lord' so how is He his son?

When we come to Jesus, we stand before the God who became our neighbor, who came into the flesh because we COULD not love Him with all our heart, mind, and strength. Nor our neighbor as ourself. He came into our flesh to accomplish this. God becomes man in order that there might be a perfect and complete human righteousness - which is just the exact same thing as saying a human life in which there was nothing but love. And the gift of that love to us to be our very own, that gift IS the gift of the kingdom.

Yes, the kingdom of God was nearer to the fellow than he expected. For the King of the kingdom was standing right before Him, and would soon take up His throne upon a cross.


Christopher D. Hall said...

Wow. Great observation. Of course, in Matthew 22, you don't get that same repetition. But the sequence of speeches remain the same.

Anonymous said...

How can one have the nerve to disagree with something so wonderful? But it bothers me. So please forgive me if anyone is offended. That is not my intent.

First, it may come as a shock to some devout Christians, but Jesus is not the answer to everything. For instance, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” The answer is not “Jesus”. Few will disagree. So it is when we come to the Kingdom. Jesus is not the Kingdom and the Kingdom is not Jesus.

Here is what He said about the Kingdom: Luke 4: 43 but He said to them, “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 16: 16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.” John 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above." 4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Matthew 6:10, “Your Kingdom come.” Replacing the word “Kingdom” in any of these passages with “Jesus” would not make much sense.

The Kingdom of God is, as Scripture and the Confessions teach, the Church, the Bride of Christ, and the Spiritual Body of Christ. In other words, it is a concept of its own, which has its own place in the Third Article of the Creed. What the Kingdom means in our faith is an important but somewhat neglected teaching in our faith. The Ancients knew what they were doing when they sang, “Having overcome the sharpness of death, He opened the Kingdom to all believers.” There are many specific teachings in Scripture about what the Kingdom is, how one enters it, how one lives in it, and how our Lord cares for it every moment. To know these things is “to discern the Body.”

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart