One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is the most important of all the commandments?” Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy’. And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself’. There is no other commandment that ranks with these”. (Mark 12: 28 – 31)
Melissa gave herself plenty of time to get to the airport. But she didn’t figure on the heavy traffic or the long line at the rental car desk. And the shuttle must have stopped a hundred times for more passengers headed home for the holidays.
At the check-in desk she had to wait behind a mob of people with tons of baggage. When she got to the counter, the ticket agent was alarmed, “You don’t have time to check your bag,” he said. “You’ll have to carry it on. Hurry or you’ll miss your flight”. She raced to security, but her cosmetics, toothpaste, and manicure scissors set off all the alarms. It took forever, but they finally let her go, and as she raced down the concourse, she could hear her name being called on the public address system. Breathless, she arrived at the gate only to see her plane being pushed back from the gateway. She was crushed. So close, yet so far.
The young man who’d followed all the commandments all his life ended up “not far” from the kingdom of God, too. Imagine having that kind of moral track record and missing out. God’s kingdom, you see, isn’t a matter of being perfectly good, because no one is. Salvation can never be earned. It must be accepted in faith, allowing the gracious gift of God to work its divine transformation in the human soul.