Mark: According to
The Eye of the Needle
This post may become a two-part post as it has a large number of texts and really covers two section of scriptures that really should not be separated for they are all teaching the same spiritual lesson yet coming at it from two different angels to get to the same place and that place is, . . . well let’s see where it leads us.
17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good teacher what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
What is interesting is the fact that upon witnessing Jesus blessing of the little children he came running after Jesus asking, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life.”
We often call this the story of the Rich Young Ruler based upon putting all three gospel accounts of his incident together. Matthew just called him as one running after him and then in verse 20 calls him young. Our New Testament Historian and Doctor, Luke call this young man a “Ruler” who was “very rich”. There is evidence that He held an honored position on the council of the Jews which would have been the local Sanhedrin which all Judean towns seemed to have, but not part of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.
The Ruler came to Jesus with eagerness and by kneeling he signified his sincerity in seeking Jesus and wishing to know what he must do to have eternal life.
Jesus responded; “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 19 You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not Steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.”
I truly wish Mark had been a little more thorough in his reporting of this incident as Matthew was. Matthew makes the point of telling us that this young man responded by saying “All these I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Jesus looked at him and in love told him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
There it is, Jesus is once again, by asking this man to take up his cross and follow him, He was asking him to do the most repulsive thing imaginable. That being to take up your cross and follow Jesus. We discovered previously that Jesus is asking this man and all his disciples to put away all selfish desires and to Follow Jesus with all his heart, and might I also add with all the talents that he had. Jesus asked him as He asks all of us and that is to serve our fellow mankind. To be a servant to others, by giving of self, to become one of the least that we gain greatness. Greatness without service is not what heaven is looking for heaven is looking for men, women, boys and girls that are willing to serve others in Christ’s name.
But this request of Jesus to the Rich Young Ruler, only served to make him sad, for he had many possessions.
23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 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.”
Many believe that Jesus statement about that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle was a reference to a small opening within a larger gate into the city that when the main gate was closed still allowed for a single camel, fully loaded with pack to enter. But this was not what Jesus was referring to. Instead Jesus is stating. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich man to be saved. Jesus is saying, it is impossible for a camel to pass through the eye of a sewing needle and it is equally impossible for a rich man to be saved.
I can hear some of you say, “Hey wait a minute! What about Abraham? He was a rich man and he was called a friend of God, yet he is saved, so see, a rich man can be saved. Right?
Yes, so let’s look at Abraham for a moment. He was rich because God blessed him, so Abraham prospered. But did Abraham put his trust, and faith in his wealth? No, he was a friend of God because in all things he trusted God and served God. But Jesus is taking this a step further by discussing the possession of riches in and of themselves. It is not the possession of wealth that bars a man from heaven, but rather his inordinate love and misuse of wealth. There is nothing to prevent a relatively “poor” man from being covetous.
26 The disciples were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, Who can be saved? 27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible. Jesus’ parting words to the Rich Young Ruler were for “Him to take up the cross, and follow Me.” In and of ourselves, it is impossible for us to lay down of self and all selfish desires, thus what Jesus is asking is impossible without us first accepting the atoning sacrifice of Christ. As Christ became a servant to us all, so through the power of Christ, we to must become servants to all. It is then and only then that we can do the impossible and that is to fit a camel through the eye of a sewing needle or for a rich man to enter heaven. Of our own it is impossible to gain heaven. But, when we place out trust in heaven, having the faith that through Christ all things are possible, then we can really truly take up our cross and follow heaven.
Nicodemus as he talked with Jesus was a rich man relying upon his own wisdom and his own wealth to achieve both greatness and salvation. But Christ told Nicodemus that he must be born again and as the children of Israel were healed by looking upon the bronze serpent that was lifted up on a pole for all to look upon, it is for disciple and Christian alike to look upon the lifted-up Son of Man as he hung upon the cross and to accept by faith the saving power. But upon accepting of this saving power, then we must as Christ did become a servant to others. Placing the things of heaven above the things of this earth and even our own selves.
This is what Jesus was telling his disciples as he finished speaking with them.
28 Then Peter began to say to Him, “see, we have left all and followed you.” 29 So Jesus answered and said, Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions and in the age to come, eternal life.
As we become part of the family of God we may lose what we possess and hold dear, but we gain all these blessing by our association with our brothers, sisters and mothers and children, knowing that in them who live to serve others we will always have lands and a place to rest our head even through persecution on this world, and eventually the reward of which is eternal life.
But it all depends on taking up my cross and following Christ who said, “but many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Abraham was a friend of God because he trusted in God and let God lead and direct in his life, while he in turn served all he came in contact with. Then daily my prayer should be, as Abraham became a friend of God by humbling himself and becoming a servant, then dear Lord give me the power to follow the example of Abraham and Christ by selflessly giving of myself to the service of the Gospel and to others without thought of selfish gain. Amen