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The Pastor's Blog

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THE EYE OF A NEEDLE



 

He was wealthy, young, and powerful. We know him as the Rich Young Ruler. Matthew (19:16-22), Mark (10:17-22), and Luke (18:18-23) each recall his brief interaction with Jesus.

 

As Jesus ambled down a footpath, “a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ” (Mark 10:17). The Rich Young Ruler assumed that he could “do” something to earn admittance into Heaven. He assumed that by doing good deeds, or by being benevolent, or by acting right, righteous, and religious, he could gain entrance into God’s everlasting kingdom. Like Adam and Eve, he thought that he could cover his sin with fig-leaves.

 

“If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). Which commandments did the Rich Young Ruler need to obey? “Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:18-19). With a great sigh of relief, the Rich Young Ruler declared, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth” (Mark 10:20).

 

Jesus’ response set the man back on his heels. “If you want to be perfect … go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”

(Matthew 19:21). The Rich Young Ruler “was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions” (Mark 10:22).

 

As Jesus watched the Rich Young Ruler walk away, He related a parable. “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For 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” (Luke 18:24-25).

 

The camel was the largest mammal in the land. They can stand ten-feet tall and weigh over a thousand pounds! They’re big! The eye of a needle is tiny. As I’ve grown older, I need a magnifying glass to find the microscopic opening… the eye.

 

Jesus wasn’t suggesting that it is difficult for a wealthy person to go to heaven. It’s not merely difficult; without God’s grace it is impossible! Rich or poor, nobody’s going to heaven by their own merits!

 

“When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’ ” (Matthew 19:25-26).

 

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift, not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Jesus “saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5–7).

 



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