And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God…
There are, then, different degrees of approximation to the light. Let us consider —
I. SOME OF THOSE THINGS WHICH BRING A MAN NEAR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
(1) A life associated with some of its members and privileges. We have all known many whose lives proved that they were true disciples of Christ; we have observed the deepening earnestness of their character, and seen it growing up into a purpose and consistency unknown before. How have we been affected by this connection?
(2) A spirit of reverence and candour towards Christ. Few things short of positive immorality so deaden the spiritual perception as does habitual flippancy. It is, therefore, a hopeful sign in a man, if he is not ashamed to own that he considers some things too sacred to be sported with.
(3) Kindliness and amiability of nature. Christ never cast a chilling look on anything that is beautiful in human nature. He acknowledged it to be good as far as it went, and sought to gain it for the Divine and eternal. All kindly and generous impulses are wild flowers of nature, which, with the enclosure of Christ's garden and the hand of Divine culture, would put on a rare beauty.
(4) A desire to conform to God's law as far as he knows it. If conscience be at work in any man, if it is keeping him from doing what he believes to be sin, and leading him to aim at the true and right, he is to be commended. And if there be any measure of humility and charity with it, that man is certainly nearer the kingdom than he who is going on in known sin, searing his conscience, hardening his heart, and building up obstacles against his return to God.
(5) An interest in the spiritual side of things. We meet with so much indifference and materialism among the unconverted, that it is refreshing to light upon one who rises above such a chilling element, and who gives evidence that he believes there is a God, and a soul, and a spiritual law laid down for man's guidance — to see him not only listening, but putting intelligent questions, and avowing, with honest conviction, how far he goes, though it may not be so far as we desire. If we meet such a man in a kindly, candid spirit, we may win him to the kingdom of Him whose heart yearns over the most distant wanderers, but who cherishes a peculiar interest in those whose souls are feeling their way, however faintly, to the eternally true and good.
II. WHAT IS NEEDED TO MAKE A MAN DECIDEDLY BELONG TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD? Our Lord's words imply that, with all that is favourable in this man, there is still something wanting. He perceived the claim of God's law, and admitted it to be spiritual; but, so far as we can see, he had no conviction of that hopeless violation of it which only a Divine deliverer like Christ could meet. Then, too, while admiring Christ's teaching, he gave no sign of his soul bowing before Him as a teacher sent from God, still less of his being ready to follow Him as his spiritual leader, to cast in his lot with Him, to walk in His steps and do His will. He lacked
(1) the new birth.
(2) The new life.
(John Ker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.