Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to 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.”
But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And 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! 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.”
And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” Mark 10:21-26
Whenever you read this passage about Jesus and the rich young man, you always stop and say, “Wait a minute, are you telling me to go give away everything I have?” Am I right? It’s a very challenging passage.
I don’t think that’s necessarily what Jesus is saying. He’s just pointing out that it’s hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. It’s not impossible. I have to remind people of this all the time. You’ve got to understand the context. The eye of the needle was obviously not an actual needle, right? It was a gate. Jesus was standing near it, so He pointed over to it. The gate was not that big. It was just the right size for a small cart, and Jesus was saying that a camel could get through it, but it would be very difficult. It would not be normal.
It wasn’t normal for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven, because rich men didn’t realize that they were dependent on God. They thought they didn’t need God. “What do I need?” they would ask. “I’ve got a house, I’ve got fine clothes, I’ve got security, I’ve got servants, I’ve got people that make my food. Why are you saying that I need God?” Because in that day, that’s truly what people thought! Rich men were called lords, they were called kings, and they said, “I don’t need God.” Or in the case of Caesar, they even said, “I am God!”
Jesus looked at the rich young man’s heart and saw this. This young man had kept all the commandments, and now he wanted to know what he had to do to have eternal life. Perhaps he thought entry to the Kingdom was something he could pay for. I guarantee you he would have paid for it! Suppose God said, “Okay, give me a thousand dollars.” The young man would have said, “Here you go.”
But that’s not what God said. He didn’t say, “Here’s what you have to give me.” He said, “I want you to give everything up.” Whoa.
Maybe that young man only thought he kept all the commandments. Maybe Jesus was telling Him that he broke the first commandment, and that’s “you shall have no other god before me.” Maybe, because that young man was so wealthy, he couldn’t see that he depended on God.
“That’s right,” Jesus said. “I want you to give up your fake god! You are not dependent on me as your God, and if you want to be in the Kingdom of Heaven, you have to be dependent on me for everything. You have to understand that all your money, everything, even every breath you take, is only there because I allow it to happen. If I want to take it away, I’ll take it away.”
That’s what happened between Jesus and the rich young man.
I truly believe that God gives, and He takes away. I have a reverential fear of that. I understand that He could take away everything in an instant. God could ruin me financially, and I’d have nothing. He can do that at any time. And so I truly want Him to know that when I tithe, when I donate, when I give money in service of His Kingdom, it’s because I’m saying look, first and foremost, I know this isn’t my money.
Do I believe I’ve been blessed with money? Absolutely! I have financial prosperity, there’s no doubt. I don’t deny it. But I also know it’s not mine. It all belongs to God.
See you Friday.