Key Passage: Matthew 19:16-26
Key Text: Matthew 19:23 “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.”
An interesting story to start us off today. When I was a child, my mother worked for the American Peace Corps and some how she brought so many books home and I read most of them. They were mostly about other countries and their peoples. I remember once reading about Greenland and Iceland and the land of the Eskimos. I saw that they lived in houses made of ice called igloos. These igloos were so fascinating, but they had one very interesting feature. They had very small low doors that you have to get down on your knees and crawl to get into the igloos. I always felt that if you were invited to enter an Eskimo’s house, you would first have to humble yourself before you can enter the house.
Today’s passage tells us the story of a young rich man came to ask Jesus what he needed to do to obtain eternal life. Jesus said he should obey the Ten Commandments, and the young man boasted that he had been faithful in keeping the law. Then Jesus gave Him the caveat. “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful, because he had great possessions. He was a rich young man. Clearly his money owned his heart. He could not let go of that to gain the Kingdom of God.
Jesus then made this great comment we all have heard many times “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.” Whatever your interpretation of this statement, it clearly shows the impossibility of those who trust in wealth and riches to enter the kingdom of God. I once heard an interpretation of this statement Jesus made and though I can’t say if it is true or not, I think it nevertheless helps us understand this analogy a bit better.
The analogy says that the ‘eye of a needle’ is a little inlet on the walls of Jerusalem that travellers arriving late after the gates have been shut can pass through to enter Jerusalem. Now when they arrived with their camels, laden with their personal possessions, the camel could not just walk through this small inlet. So what they did, was they stripped the camel of all its heavy baggage, then they forced it to kneel on its four legs and then people pulled it and another set push it and the camel screamed and struggled as they pushed it through this small inlet. From what I heard it took quite an effort and time to complete the operation.
This is how it is with those who are rich and put their hope and trust in their riches. If they were to make it into the Kingdom of God, they would have to be stripped, humbled and literarily dragged and pushed into the kingdom of God. Like I said, I don’t know if this illustration is true, but I do know that the disciples of Jesus felt it was impossible for such people to be saved. But the good news is that Jesus said, what is impossible with man is possible with God. Only God can help such people to be saved.
To be saved, you have to put your trust in Jesus and Jesus alone. No one or nothing else. The rich often feel they don’t need God. That whatever they need they can afford, so why do they need God? But the truth is unless you are graciously led by the Lord to see your wretchedness, your hopelessness and your lost state, you would not truly appreciate that you need a saviour. Lord, help us.
The simple law here is God must be number one or else we can’t really have him living in our hearts and we cannot possess his kingdom.
Let’s Pray: Father God, please help us understand the truth that we cannot serve God and mammon at the same time. Help us to put our trust in you and you alone. Lord help us we pray in Jesus name. Amen.