And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 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! 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.” They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Mark 10: 23-27
What the disciples just witnessed was befuddling. How could such a successful man walk away from the chance to inherit eternal life? Jesus’ answer was even more incredible. That’s because he’s rich, and it’s hard for the rich to enter the kingdom, like threading a camel through the eye of a needle. What?
Well, Jesus didn’t say it was impossible, just hard. Even if it was impossible, nothing’s impossible with God. So I guess the Beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” is true (Matthew 5:3). But it seems to be a raw deal for the rich.
It all boils down to a person’s need for a savior, which presumes there’s something that a person needs to be saved from. Riches do a good job of placating one’s life to the point of numbness. You can really think you don’t need God in that state. It’s conceivable that you might feel empty deep inside, but how about just buying something new to compensate? That’ll do it.
Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.” Mark 10:28-31
Only God can strike the raw nerve that causes one to leave everything and follow him, like the very rich disciple Matthew. Somehow, all rationality is set aside for a vision of something bigger, better and real. Then all the things that you thought you left behind—that is, the truly important things—are restored one hundredfold in this life, and surely by an astronomical factor, in the next!
But Jesus sneaks in something bittersweet in this present life, persecutions, to make us long for the next. There’s also a change in our economy. “The first will be last, and the last, first.”