The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10, verses 21-23.
Let’s face it: there’s good reason to be stumped over what Jesus said here. Remember, he’s addressing what had just happened on the road to Jerusalem. The rich man had puffed himself up and was questioning Jesus, who responded kindly and threw the poor soul a few lifelines, each of which was ignored. So Jesus then comments: “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
If we were the Disciples, we might react by saying, “well, that’s it. We’re just toast.” Or something like that. Yet before going down that depressing path, let’s step back and look at a few other things.
One, Jesus wasn’t ASKING them how hard it was to live in God’s presence: He was telling them. It was a statement of fact, meant to point out, once again, that man in his sinful state couldn’t possibly hope to stand in front of a just God and live. Man, in his sinful state, couldn’t possibly hope to atone for all the wrongs he had done no matter how many doves, lambs and sacrifices he offered at the Temple. Man, in his sinful state needed something more. Jesus then proceeds to back this up with the outrageous comparison between the camel and the eye of a needle.
Then, Jesus helps to assuage His disciples’ obvious angst over “who then can be saved.” It seems that we, too, have this same angst, always puffing up ourselves with our own greatness while always surrendering to the magnitude of our pressing problems by declaring that they are too big to solve. It simply isn’t true. It simply isn’t true because Jesus Christ led across the quantum leap of logic we’re missing by declaring “with man this is impossible but all things are possible with God.” This simple yet astounding declaration puts to rest all doubt we may ever have. Is it a supernatural cop-out? My friend, the truth is never a cop-out.
Finally, what kind of wealth was Jesus addressing when He talked about “the rich?” Was He talking about those with great material wealth (and, thus, worldly attachment), or was He talking about a wealth of pride? Was Jesus cautioning us on an attitude of the heart? You know the answer. After all, it is sinful pride of the heart that keeps us from truly coming to God with what matters most to us. All the money in the world can’t buy happiness but God’s peace does. When Jesus was imploring the wealthy road traveler beside Him to sell everything and follow Him, He was being both figurative and literal. The underlying commonality that bridged both methods was simple, however: submit your heart to God and follow.
If you don’t think you need God, count yourself as worldly rich. If you think you have enough, you need much more than simple provision.
Lord, let me be poor in the eyes of the world as long as I’m rich in Your peace and love.
Read Mark 10, verses 17-31.