HARD FOR A RICH GUY
MATTHEW 19:23-26 NKJV
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
This is another of those sayings of Jesus that was a head-scratcher for His disciples. In a culture that revered wealth, Jesus brought an entirely new perspective on wealth and God’s kingdom.
Jesus had just finished a conversation with a young man who was quite wealthy. This man seemed very sincere in his desire to have more of God in his life. Jesus extended an invitation to follow Him to be one of His disciples. Not joining the 12, but remember Jesus had many people that followed Him. This is why He was able to send out the 12 and also send out the 70.
The rich man balked at the idea of selling his possessions and giving to the poor. He wanted more of God but could not let go of his possessions. We may see that as an extreme ask but from an eternal perspective, what would this young man have gained? We may never know the answer, but this was the context for Jesus’ next statement.
Jesus said it’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Not that money is evil, but if the dependence on money is strong, it’s tougher to put trust in God. When Jesus talked about the camel and the eye of the needle, I heard a Bible historian share some insight that helped clarify this statement.
The eye of the needle was a gate where camels would enter a city after hours. In order to ensure the camels were not bringing in anything dangerous, they had to be unloaded in order to get through this small narrow gate.
Even if this is not correct, it does make a level of sense. In order for us to come to Christ, we can bring nothing with us. Our works, money, talent, and background mean nothing to Him. We, in effect, have to unload ourselves and come to the Lord. The song said it well… “Just as I am without one plea. But that thy blood was shed for me.” Riches do not get us into heaven, only the sacrifice of Jesus.
But the disciples did not understand yet what Jesus would accomplish on the cross. So they were dumbfounded by the idea that a rich person would have a hard time entering the kingdom of God. But Jesus had an answer for that, with God, all things are possible.
Money does not make us closer to God or keep us farther from Him. The challenge with money is that if you have a lot of it, the tendency is to think too highly of yourself. Or to think that your money makes you special to God. Or to trust in money instead of trusting in God.
When Paul wrote Timothy, he instructed the young pastor to command those who were rich in this life to not be haughty or trust in uncertain riches. Paul never said that the rich were to give up all their money, just that they were to use their resources to help and bless others. And they were to put their trust in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17-18).
Thank God the gospel we preach is available for everyone with the heart to come to God and receive what He has done for them. And this gospel is available to the rich and the poor.
Thank You, Lord, for making me a part of Your kingdom. You are interested in my heart, not how much I have or don’t have.