Mark 10:23,25- Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” NKJV
I’m not much of a seamstress, but I did learn to sew. Trying to get a piece of thread through the eye of the needle required a steady hand and good eyesight. Even still, it is a challenge for some. But eventually, I learned to get the thread through the eye with little to no effort.
As Jesus is walking down the road with His disciples, a young man runs to Him and bows before Him, asking Him what must he do to inherit eternal life?
“Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”Mark 10:17 NKJV
Apparently, he had heard the message of the kingdom that Jesus shared everywhere He went, and the thought of eternal life appealed to him. So he wanted to know what did he have to do to have eternal life?
So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”Mark 10:18-19 NKJV
The young ruler addressed Jesus as the Good Teacher, and Jesus asked the ruler why did he call Him good? No one is good but God, Jesus responds, so are you acknowledging that I Am God?
Then Jesus says that the young man knows the commandments, don’t commit adultery, don’t commit murder, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness, and don’t cheat people, or defraud them, and honor your father and mother. The young man looked at Jesus and told Him that, yes, he had done all of these things since he was a young boy. In other words, he was morally upright and a good person at that. But Jesus knows how to get to the heart of the matter, how to reach us when no other can. So with His next statement, He does just that. He addresses the ruler’s heart.
He looked on this young man and love-filled His heart for him. One version states that compassion filled Jesus’ heart. He knew what He needed to say to this young ruler, and He knew it would be a struggle for him.
“One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”Mark 10:21 NKJV
After Jesus tells this to the young man, he walks away saddened because he had a lot of property. The bible says that he was rich. Isn’t it interesting that the young man asked Jesus what he had to do to have eternal life, and then when Jesus tells him what to do, it’s too much! He can’t do it! He can’t give up all that he has obtained to follow Jesus! He wasn’t interested in treasure in heaven when he had so much treasure on earth. For him, this was a hard saying.
People learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus then realize the cost is too deep. They can’t walk away from their lifestyle. They can’t leave that individual. They can’t give up who they are to become what they don’t know. Fear grips their heart and paralyzes them, disabling them to answer the call to come to Jesus. It’s too hard. It’s too much!
Jesus looks at His disciples who have watched all of this transpire and makes an interesting statement:
“How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”Mark 10:23 NKJV
Mark tells us that the disciples were astonished. It’s my personal opinion that they were surprised because some of them had money and possessions. And a lot of it. After all, they were fishermen with more than one boat and others working for them. Matthew had made a lot of money as a tax collector. This probably was a shock for them to hear. If they were poor, they would have had a different reaction. You know the have nots enjoy watching the haves be rejected. That’s why I don’t believe the disciples were poor. So Jesus repeated it, this time adding something else to His statement.
“Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”Mark 10:24-25 NKJV
The first time Jesus addresses the subject of riches and the kingdom, He remarks that it is hard for people with wealth to enter the kingdom. Then He restates it for the disciples that those who trust in riches will have a hard time entering the kingdom of God. This is where some attack prosperity-minded ministers saying that riches prohibit us from entering into the kingdom of God. Yet, some of those same people who protest prosperity ministers are equally rich. The religious leaders were wealthy, and the Pope is rich. Lots of people become rich off of the gospel message. And many others remain poor. Some speak of having money, and others don’t. Jesus isn’t against us having money, He doesn’t want money to have us! That’s us trusting in riches!
Some in the body say that when Jesus made this analogy of a camel going through the eye of the needle, He was referencing a gateway in Jerusalem. I watched some videos of the gate that is supposed to be the eye of the needle. It was demonstrated that if the camel had nothing on his back, it could crawl through the narrow gate, referred to as the eye of the needle gate. So the camel could get through the gate, but it would be with much difficulty.
Since Jesus used a lot of figurative language when He spoke to His disciples and the crowds, this could be what He was referencing. However, I tend to think it was an actual eye of a needle. It may not have been a sewing needle like I used to stitch a hem, but a needle nonetheless. Whatever view you have, Jesus said that it would be difficult or hard for a person who is trusting in their wealth to enter the kingdom of God.
Why? Look at the rich young ruler. His money was so important to him, he allowed it to keep him from following Jesus. Had Jesus told Him to set up a food bank, he probably could have handled that. But Jesus asked him to sell everything and give it away, then follow Him. But the young man could not because he trusted his wealth more than the promises of the Savior! The One he called Good Teacher!
What hinders you from following Jesus? Is it riches? Is it a position you hold in government, in a company? Is it social media? Friends? The attention of the opposite sex? Can your eye of the needle be pornography, or drugs, or sex? Whatever it is that hinders you, it has become your god. It means more to you than the promises of the Savior.
Jesus didn’t say that this ruler or other rich people could never enter the kingdom of God; He said it would be hard. We’ll discuss it more in my next blog. Wonderful Jesus!