So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him. Mark 12:32-34. NKJV
One of the saddest words—regardless of which language spoken in — is “almost”, because “almost” means that you are near but not exactly there; or very near but not quite or exactly complete. Some people are not far from the Kingdom of God, yet not close enough to enter into it; but they are “almost” there.
Like the Scribe in the about text, he was almost there because he had an appreciation of Truth, but lack the necessary repentance and faith necessary to enter the Kingdom (Mark 1:14, 15). This Scribe, undoubtedly, was a teacher of the Law; he was knowledgeable, intelligent and wise; he knew the Law but hadn’t entered the Kingdom. He knew about the Law not but the Law-Giver. It is one thing to know about the Church or the Bible, but it’s another to know the Head of the Church and the Author of the Bible. Thus, yo9u don’t want to be just almost there.
Which is first in importance to you? Is it religion or loving God and loving one another? Religion hindered this Scribe from entering into the Kingdom of God (Matt. 5:20). In the Kingdom, a relationship with God and loving others most characterize one’s kingdom experience. The Scribes divided the Law into 613 precepts—248 do’s and 365 don’ts regulating Sabbath observances, circumcision, sacrifices, and the fashion of their religious robes (The Pilgrim Study Bible). These ceremonial and legalistic things were regarded as the greatest in importance to them; thus, some were only almost there.
Outward ceremonies and observances are useless if your heart is not right with God. But even when your heart is right, religion can keep you not far from the Kingdom of God, and not close enough to enter into it. Religious people are almost there if they try to keep all the rules in order to go to heaven when they die. They don’t realize that you enter the Kingdom of heaven by birth, not by death (John 3: 3, 5).