July 10, 2018
Matthew 19:23-26…Jesus said to His disciples, ”Truly, I say to you… only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God”. When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.”
This summarizes the teaching Jesus gave after a rich man asked for eternal life and Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor. The man didn’t do it and the reason given is that he had great wealth. The first thing I would like to note about this story is that Jesus did not tell him to give all of his wealth to the poor.
Verse 21… Jesus said to him, “Go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Jesus told him to give to the poor. Notice, He did not say, give all to the poor. It’s not about quantity; it’s about the condition of the heart. Even people of modest wealth can be selfish and stingy. But His comments here are directed at the rich. So, to stay in context, I will say that if you have wealth and are unwilling to help the poor and needy, you are at great risk. There is no greater mistake than not inheriting eternal life. It is a free gift from God that you can’t buy, but, that will cost you everything. If you read like I do, you might have to read that sentence again.
Reading the scripture again, I notice that Jesus calls the dilemma impossible. He speaks of a camel going through the eye of a needle, a seemingly impossible task. I have heard preachers wax eloquent about the eye of a needle being the name of a particular gate into the city. To make it through the camel must get on its knees. That may be a true story but I don’t think it was Jesus’ teaching. The disciples were astonished. That was because Jesus’ words made it impossible to get into heaven. His next words gave the explanation, “With man it is impossible.” When a preacher tries to make it possible, he takes the message out of the teaching. Only God can do it!