Summary: One of the most difficult teaching (Yet true) teachings of Jesus concerns the "eye of the needle". While this is not a theological exegesis of the text, this message speaks to practical truths found in this text.
The Principle of “The Eye of the Needle”
* "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." These are the words of Jesus as recorded for 3 of the 4 gospels and what I have termed the “Principle of the Eye of the Needle.” And for those of us who think this is a stunning statement, so did the disciples. In fact, they were so concerned at this statement, that scripture records they were astonished, amazed, utterly astonished, and even more amazed at the ‘demands’ of Christ.
* For the person who has spent time in God’s word, you know that these words were spoken in the aftermath of the encounter with the Rich Young Ruler. (Text call – ‘let’s get this story in front of us’ – Read)
* Every time I read this text I ponder a couple of questions, “What was it that tipped Jesus off to the truth that this rich man was not really interested in discovering God’s requirements for salvation & eternal life?”
a) Could it have been his Appearance? Do you think he walked up with every hair in place, the smell of expensive cologne, his beard extra neat, & his face laced with a hint of cream?
b) Could it have been his Attire? – Perhaps as he planned to come & see Jesus he carefully planned what he would or could wear to make Jesus aware of who ‘he was?’ After all, he was an up & coming young man who already possessed the trappings of success and wealth.
c) Could it be that this man came to Jesus with an attitude? – To read the text is glean the idea that this is a real possibility. Both Mark & Luke quote the man as beginning the conversation with “Good Teacher.” This could be a sign of respect or disrespect, of admiration or sarcasm.
* While we do not know exactly how Jesus knew, we need to understand that Jesus saw through the verbal games this young man was playing. And Jesus sees through the verbal games we play. We say or sing,
* “I Love you Lord”, while my love for Him is overshadowed by my love for my comfort, my convenience, and my desires.
* “I will serve you”, while our service has to take its place in my laundry list of other priorities.
* “I will tell others about you,” while the word of our mouth & the meditations of our heart are acceptable in OUR sight instead of His.
* “I will be faithful to you,” yet we will be more faithful to the things of this temporary world than to the eternal one who died for us.
* To look at this “Rich Young Ruler” is to discern the problem of today.
* We are the rich of this world. Here is a little perspective; over a billion people attempt to survive on less than $1 a day. They live & die in abject poverty. Beyond this, close to two billion people live on less than $2 a day. That is nearly half the population of the world struggling to find the necessities of life (Food, Water, & shelter). Today, over 26,000 children will die due to either starvation or preventable diseases. While these numbers may be too enormous to ‘fathom’, these are real people and their plight demonstrates how rich in earthly goods we are.
* As rich people we need to hear and receive the warnings of Jesus & God’s word about the difficulty of entering the Kingdom of God. Scripture makes it clear that many ‘who believe themselves to be saved are truly lost.’ I dare say this is never more true than with the wealthy.
1) The Corruption of the Rich – The Bible does not say that “money is the root of all evil” as some might think. Rather, Paul writes to Timothy to say, “The love of money is the root of ALL KINDS of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith & pierced themselves with many pains.” The Greek word for root is like a sprout in the ground which grows into a huge bush, a shoot. When we fall in love with money, it takes over our lives like briers take over a pasture, bringing nothing but havoc. Hebrews also tells us that we should be ‘free from the love of money.’ While it is true that power corrupts, it is equally true that being wealthy creates the environment for corruption. Why?
a) Lean on their resource – When the Young man came to Jesus, it would seem that Jesus immediate saw through the façade of this young man & identified his problem. His problem was that his financial resources had become the god in his life. Jesus said, “Have you kept all the commandments?” Can you see the ruler’s face as he responded, “Yes, I have.” And yet, even in this response I can imagine the heart of our Lord being made sad. This man was not ready to admit his need but rather was expecting Jesus to say, “That’s great! Sign this card! Join the church! We need your money!” God needs neither this man’s money nor yours. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Those who love Him give to Him out of a heart of deep love, devotion, commitment, and obedience. Neither you nor I have enough to impress God. We may have a few resources on this earth, God IS the ultimate resource! The rich tend to believe God needs them.