As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them 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.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Mark 10:17-31, NRSV)
This is a scary passage if you take it at face value.
Jesus said you have to sell all of your possessions and give the money to the poor. Now I did not have much growing up, and still don’t, but to sell what I have and give it to the poor is a hard thing for us to do.
That is why Jesus said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. So it is impossible! I mean how can a camel fit through the eye of a needle?
But wait you say, this is the gate in Jerusalem that is the smaller gate in the big gate that was shut after dark, where merchants had to remove all the wares from their camels and the camel had to crawl unencumbered through the smaller gate. Yes this is a story we have heard for about the last 200 years. But there is no proof that this is true. There is no proof that a gate called the eye of the needle exists. This is a way to spiritualize the passage and show that we need to come to God on our knees unencumbered by anything in our lives, so that God is first. Not a bad idea, and something we need to do, but not what Jesus said.
So what does this passage mean?
Do we need to sell all of our worldly possessions and give the money to the poor?
If the answer to that question was yes, what would you do?
Would you walk away?
Because God does want us to come to Him unencumbered.
And it is easier for a camel, an actual camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a person who worships his possessions to go to heaven.
You see everything we have belongs to God anyway and everything we have was given to us by Him. There is no separation in our lives of faith and possessions. There is no separation in our lives of faith and anything.
If you can not see God in your possessions, then your focus needs to be changed.
If you can not see God in all of your life, then your focus needs to be changed.
With out God in all aspects of our lives, our salvation is impossible, because it is only possible through the faithfulness of the grace of God!
Not because of what we do, but all because of what He has done.
So center yourself on Him and know that He will make the impossible possible if we let Him have the control He should have.