We have studied about the first commandment. Remember in our study of Mark, the man who asked Jesus the question, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Mark 12:28
Jesus answered in verse 30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” Then Jesus said in the next verse, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
“And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth; for there is one God: and there is none other but he: and to love Him with all with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices”, Mark 12:32-33. The young man that asked the question understood Jesus’ answer and as a result, Jesus told him in verse 34, “And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the Kingdom of God.”
Our own responses to the Words of the Bible, show our understanding.
King Solomon in his writings instructed his son to receive his words, apply his heart to understanding and cry out for knowledge, Proverbs 2:1-5. “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee: so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding: Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures: then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” As a parent we see this parallel between a loving Father who wants their child to understand his teaching and live a good, long life. Proverbs 4:1-7, “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom : and with all thy getting get understanding.”
Jesus told the scribe that he was not far from the Kingdom of God, Mark 12:34. Jesus was bringing a new teaching to the Jewish nation and the scribe’s answer showed Jesus that his heart was ready to learn for he already understood what was important. He was willing to put all his trust in God before all else, even before the Old Testament law of the burning of sacrifices. Mark 12:33. Micah 6:8 is another verse in the Old Testament that sums up the first two commandments beautifully, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”. The scribe understood.
He was ready to receive the mystery of the Gospel which was new to the Jews at this time. Jesus would be bringing together the Jews and Gentiles by His death on the cross, as Paul proclaimed in Romans 1: 16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” .
This change in belief that God’s chosen people were not only be the Israelites but would now include other nations would take great love and trust in God for a Jew to accept as well as a love for his neighbour. The Jewish people were expecting an earthly Messiah and an earthly kingdom, not a spiritual Kingdom as we studied last week, especially not a spiritual Kingdom that would be shared with Gentiles.
This same love and trust in God is required today as we read the New Testament. Many of the Pharisees and rulers believed in Jesus but would not confess Him as the Christ because they loved the praise of men more than they loved God. Unlike the scribe, they were not close to receiving the Kingdom. Jesus said that these were they that were prophesied in Isaiah 6:10, “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” and therefore they would not be able to enter into the Kingdom, John 12:42-43, “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
As we studied last week, the Kingdom of God is in existence now. Jesus is the King, ruling in Heaven at the right hand of God, Luke 1:31-33, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever: and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” His subjects are those who are unafraid to confess Him as Lord, change their lives from sinfulness and be immersed in the waters of baptism for the forgiveness of their sins. These are the people of the Kingdom of God, for they have obeyed the King and His teachings, Romans 6:17-18, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
Don’t you want to be a part of this Kingdom not made with hands as we read about last week in Daniel 2? “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.” Daniel 2:34. This stone was the Kingdom of God that was set up during the divided kingdom of Rome. Daniel 2:41. Daniel 2:44 “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
Be obedient to that form of doctrine which the Bible teaches, Romans 6:17-18 and you will be set free from from sin and become a part of this Kingdom which stands forever. Arise and be baptized as Paul did in Acts 22:16 and wash away your sins.
Solomon taught his children to seek understanding and that those that find her are blessed, Proverbs 3:13-14, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.”
Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength that you might receive the wisdom that is found in God’s Holy Bible.
Jeremiah, an Old Testament prophet, warns us not to lean upon our own understanding, Jeremiah 10:23, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. “ . Solomon warned in Proverbs 16:25 that there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof is death.
Solomon’s own son, Rehoboam, did not heed his father’s advice and as a result the kingdom of Israel became divided,1 King 11:43-12, and was eventually destroyed by Babylon, Jeremiah 39:1-9.
“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:” Proverbs 1:5. Thank you for being here today to listen to lessons from God’s Word.
“Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word.
Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.
My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight.
Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.”