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19 March 2012

The Christological Significance of Mark 12:28-34

This past Friday we heard the account of Jesus' interaction with the understanding scribe.  

Gospel Mk 12:28-34One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
"Which is the first of all the commandments?"
Jesus replied, "The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!The Lord our God is Lord alone!You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.The second is this:You shall love your neighbor as yourself.There is no other commandment greater than these."The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher.You are right in saying,He is One and there is no other than he.And to love him with all your heart,with all your understanding, with all your strength,and to love your neighbor as yourselfis worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,he said to him,"You are not far from the Kingdom of God."And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Reflecting upon this account led to mine what I think might be this passage's Christological significance.

The reason, or at least part of the reason, that no one dared ask Jesus more questions is not because of his conversation with the scribe.  Rather, I find significance in his bold declaration that the scribe with whom he conversed is near the Kingdom of God.  This is a peculiarly bold statement.  To declare that someone is near the Kingdom of God is tantamount to appropriating for one's self the authority to decide what is the Kingdom of God and what is not.  Thus, in this exchange, Jesus takes for himself the de facto role of defining the Kingdom.

I'd suggest then, that this Gospel passage boldly proclaims Jesus' Messiah-ship.  Or, in other words, Jesus names himself as a constitutive part of the Kingdom of God.  Hence, those who wish to find this Kingdom must first find Christ.

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