What Did Jesus Mean By It’s Easier For A Camel to Pass Through The Eye of a Needle than for a Rich Man to Enter the Kingdom?
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 – A Lesson on Greed or Law?
This story of the rich young ruler is often preached in conjunction with a tithe message and is often taught as being about serving God or Serving money as the primary message that God wants us to learn from these verses. Don’t get me wrong, God showed us the man was greedy and loved money but once again if we read this closely, what we discover is that this is really about how in one way or the other the law makes EVERYONE guilty and shows us our need of a savior.
In a moment we will read this story slowly, verse by verse, and we see that while this mans issue was with the coveting of money the core teaching of this story is not about greed. It’s about Jesus showing a Jewish man how he is falling short by the holy and perfect standard of the law and how he needs a better system for salvation. That better system of course is through Christ, who at this point has not been taken to the cross. It’s also very important to understand that nearly every Jewish man strongly believed that the law was and is the only way to God.
My guess is not a single person reading this or listening to this audio would even consider selling everything and giving it to the poor. We all covet by Gods standards, and I think in this story God wants us to see a rich man that thinks he’s doing a pretty good job at law keeping and that Jesus is showing him he’s not and he’s burring him under the same law that he thinks saves him.
The Camel & The Needle – Let’s See What This is all About
[Mark 10:17] 17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
So right away we see the rich young ruler is interested in inheriting eternal life. But his question is revealing what he thinks. He asks what must HE “DO”, when really the only solution is believing.
[Mark 10:18] ”18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
In other words, if no one is good then no one can get themselves into heaven by what they “do”. Jesus is getting ready to show this guy he’s not good either, and watch what He uses to do it. Here’s the guys to do list. At least a tiny piece of it.
[Mark 10:19] 19 You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’”
Where is Jesus getting these from? He’s getting them from the law. The 10 commandments. This is not an accident. Jesus is setting the stage perfectly.
[Mark 10:20] 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
So far this guy thinks he’s good.
[Mark 10:21] 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
And bulls eye! Jesus used the law again, but this time it showed him he was guilty of coveting. Since this guy seemed to care about keeping the law we can assume he was a good guy overall. The point Jesus is making is that no matter how good you are the law will convict everyone. The Apostle James said if we stumble at one point of the law we are guilty of it all.
Galatians 3:10 tells us For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.”
And before any of us put on our “I am super Spiritual” hats you should consider this. In the same way that Jesus told the rich man to sell everything He might as well be asking it of us too. How many of you have sold everything you own? By worldly standards the average American is rich. So by that standard you would required to sell everything too. That’s enough to get most of us real defensive, isn’t it? Luckily for you (and me) this really is not about selling everything you own, but rather it’s about how the law will convict you in one way or the other.
[Mark 10:22-23] 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. 23 And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
Again, that’s me. That’s you, or at least most of you. But relax, Jesus has the answer coming soon.
[Mark 10:24-26] 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus *answered again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is 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.”26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then WHO CAN BE SAVED?”
And there’s the right question to be asking. Who can saved by a law that’s so perfect and does not allow for even a tiny screw up? Remember Jesus didn’t just quote to this man the law of coveting. He hit on 6 of the 10 commandments. So how are you doing with all of them? Are you doing 100% perfect with adultery? Do you remember that Jesus said if you look with lust you are guilty of adultery? How about murder? Jesus said if you have been angry with a brother or called them names that you are guilty of murder. Ever been disobedient to your mom or dad? One way or the other the law will shut every mouth up. Not a single person will be found righteous by the law.
Let’s see if Jesus thinks it’s possible for this man to be saved by the law.
[Mark 10:27] 27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, “WITH PEOPLE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE,
Well that includes me and if you’re a human being it means you too. But the rest of the verse sort of gives us the solution.
[Mark 10:27 contd] but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
And the only way that God gave us that we can effectively take part in is to believe in His son Jesus. Believe that he was born of the flesh, lived a sinless life, died of cross for forgiveness of sins, and rose from the dead to give us life!
So I don’t know what your sin is, but I’m sure God was not lifting the law of coveting above any other laws. He’s teaching us our need for Him. Our need to fully place our faith in Him for salvation and not to look at our performance as part of the solution. This in no way implies that we should just go out and live a life of sin. We have new desires and we’re not made to serve sin. But if you’re to try and use the law as a means to inherit the kingdom of God, then you can try as hard as you want to, but you will fail because as Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God”.