Luke 18.18-25 – Discipleship
Posted: 10 June 2010 in Luke

And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Somebody once described money as being God’s great rival; it is certainly the form of idolatry most of us most easily fall into. Of course, not everybody receives a call to dispose of all their material possessions in order to follow Jesus, and, in Luke 8.39, the healed demoniac, who wanted to follow Jesus directly, was sent away with a different commission to fulfill. Even so, the above passage raises the question of how easily we could forgo our material possessions if called to do so. My guess is that the difficulty would be directly proportional to how well off we were.

You sometimes hear people trying to mitigate the full force of the verse about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. They do so by saying that “Eye of a Needle” was the name of a gate in Jerusalem. The problem there is that there is no evidence for any such gate ever having existed. In any case, the above passage has no definite article prior to the words “needle’s eye,” which is what you might have expected, had the phrase referred to a definite geographical location.

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