Scripture: Matt. 19:
21Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell 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.”
25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Observation: The Lord delights in doing those things that for man are impossible.
Application: Many times when this passage is taught about, it is brought up that there was a small hole in the great wall that surrounded Jerusalem near the sheep gates which was termed by the locals, “The Eye of The Needle.” It was a hole that may have been three feet wide by four feet high. It would have been possible for a camel to be put through this “Eye of the Needle” but it would have been no easy task. First you would have to remove all the burdens from the Camel, it would have to go through stripped down to nothing. Then the Camel would have to be made to kneel, and crawl through on its knees. It’s a good thought, I can see where it would preach well, you could very easily make a well rounded three point sermon from this idea. It would have been a very very difficult task, but not impossible.
And that’s one of the reasons that I believe Jesus wasn’t talking about some hole in the wall around Jerusalem. It would have been possible for man to accomplish this task, although difficult. And I don’t think that’s the point Christ was trying to make. I think he was talking about a real needle, and a real camel. He was using hyperbole which is a figure of speech used for emphasis or effect. It is an extravagant statement that is obviously overly exaggerated.
When I was a kid we would hurl insults at each other on the bus on the ride home to pass the time. It was never taken seriously and was a lot of fun. We called it “Cut Down Fights,” and one of my favorite “Cut Downs,” was “You’re so ugly that when you were a baby, your parents fed you with a sling shot.” Wow, that’s pretty ugly huh? It’s obviously untrue, and an elaborate exaggeration, its a good example of a hyperbole.
That is what I think Jesus was using when he made the “Eye of the Needle” statement. It was meant to be a little funny, I’m sure the disciples probably chuckled when he said it; imagine that, the Lord may have had a sense of humor! Woah!! 😛 I know He does, I know God has a good sense of humor every day when I go look in the mirror! Oh but I digress.
I think that what Jesus was trying to say is, that for a rich man to try to work his way into heaven by doing good works, is impossible, it can’t be done. It’s like trying to take a huge camel and pushing it through a tiny eye of a needle. And so the disciples say “Lord, if that’s so then who can ever be saved?” Because you see in 1st century Palestine being rich was considered a blessing from God and evidence of your piety and righteousness. So if the rich can’t make it, then who can? And Jesus says, “For man, it’s impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
And there it is. For man it’s impossible. We can’t do enough good works to earn our salvation, and even if we try all of our lives we will fall short. We can’t do it on our own. That’s why Jesus came, so that God could take up the slack for us, and make what was impossible for us, possible through Him.
If you think you’re safe from Judgement because you’ve lived a decent life, been mostly good, tried to help people, never tried to hurt anyone, etc etc. You might as well go grab a camels tail and try to push it through a needle. You’ll have just about the same amount of luck when you stand before a Pure, Holy, and Just God. All our righteousness is as dirty rags before the Holy Jehovah. That is why we need to put on the righteousness of His Son, the only pure lamb of God that He provided for us so that what was impossible for us could be possible through Him.
Prayer: Holy God,
Thank you for providing the sacrificial lamb of Jesus Christ to pay for our sins, and so we may be clothed in His righteousness. Thank you for making what was impossible for us, possible because of your own willingness and desire to be with us and among us. I praise you today because you wash away iniquity and weakness, and cloth us in righteousness and strength. Grant me the ability to live my life in submission to your will and desire, and grant me the strength to continue always on the path you have set me on.
Yield: I give up trying to push the camel through the needle. I’m going to let God do it for me.