“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” – Matthew 19:24
This verse is a popular one, and each one of us has probably heard some teaching on it at some point. We read it or hear it and since it’s a direct quote from Christ, we try to take it to heart, and sometimes we might even look back at our own lives or the lives of those around us and we wonder if we are too wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God.
I have heard preachers and theologians say that Jesus did not mean a literal needle’s eye, but it was a metaphor for a small gate at the entrance of ancient city’s. They say that even though it is still a hard task its not as dramatic as it reads in modern day.
However, I have also heard some well informed commentators of the scripture say that Jesus was being very literal and keeping with the model of the Book of Acts we should be sharing our wealthy or passions with the body of Christ or the poor, as Jesus had just instructed the rich young ruler to do in the verses leading up to this statement.
When you look at the scriptures very wealthy men have followed after God. These include: Abraham, David, Solomon, and Jesus may even fall into this category, if you consider the great value of the gifts that were given to him at his birth. It seems that Jesus doesn’t actually care how wealthy or poor we are, but rather we keep the Word of God and if we have a heart of compassion and willing to give and help others.
In Matthew 19:16, we read that this wealthy religious man approached Jesus and asked him directly “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Jesus’s reply was not one having to do with his wealth, but rather his obedience to the Word. Jesus’s answer to the question is simply “keep the commandments”. For clarity, the man asks a follow up question, “which commandments.” Jesus then chooses six of the Ten Commandments and quotes them to the man. You can almost see the excitement on the man’s face when he hears this as he has kept those commandments since he was a kid, but he responds and tells Jesus that he feels like something is still missing. Jesus’s reply found in verse 21 is simply this (paraphrasing): what you are lacking is your divine destiny, give all your stuff to the poor and “follow me”. I want you to be one of my disciples. Jesus had asked many to follow him throughout his ministry and He was able to find 12 men who did just that, they left all that they knew and living their life in the service of Jesus and the kingdom of God. However, this wealthy man was unwilling to leave the things he had worked his whole life for, and accept the call that the Master had just given him. The fact that this man had made his wordily possessions more important then God’s will is what prompted Jesus to make the statement about the Camel and the Eye of the Needle.
This excited Jesus’s disciples because they quickly realized that they had already done exactly what the wealthy man was unwilling to do. In verse 27 Peter asked Jesus what they would get in return. Jesus answers and tells them they will get to be judges in heaven sitting on thrones (verse 28), and we know that He kept that promise because John see’s that exact thing in the Book of Revelation. However the statement that Jesus makes after that is not just addressing those 12 present with Him but everybody who would follow the call on there life. He said:
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (Matthew 19:29)
Brothers and Sisters, Jesus said that your efforts and your troubles on earth would be rewarded. Be joyful in knowing that you have, or can have, treasures in heaven that are equal to 100x what you scarified here on earth.
I thank you that you cared for your disciples enough to offer then a fantastic retirement plan, you promised that everything they put in, you would not just match but you would match it 100 times. You have promised eternal life in a Kingdom with no heartache, no sickness, no pain, and a place to live with you and your son Jesus.
Father, I ask that you comfort those out there who sacrificed for you. Those who sacrificed worldly success or comforts, those who sacrificed precious time with their children or other loved ones. Lord I especially pray for those who picked up everything they knew and left their homeland and their loved ones to follow your call and to be obedient to you.
Lord I know your scriptures call for the importance of raising children and taking care of one another, and I am not trying to give people an excuse to neglect their families, but Lord for those who made sacrifices and stepped out in faith and spent time doing your will and your call, I pray that everything they sacrificed to make that happen will return to them one hundredfold in Jesus name!