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The Camel and the Eye of the Needle Or, why it is so hard for the rich to get into heaven?
Poor rich man! How do you decide on the offering or charity giving? 2, 5, or 10 % of what you made that week, whatever you have in your wallet, the same amount every week…
The Request Christ’s answer to the young rich man is a hard one: sell all that you possess, give the money to the poor and then follow me. Who can do that? Who of us could do that?
It is pretty impossible for a real camel to get through a real eye of a needle
Either the camel is too big or the eye of the needle too small. Thus, we would need a giant needle to “cheat” a little.
Or we have to take a miniature Camel.
Other Cheats Of course, this camel from Picasso could go through an eye of a needle as a single thread.
However, I wonder whether any cheat or lawyer could get us past Peter!
Or did Jesus mean something else? There was a gate in the wall of Jerusalem, called the Eye of the Needle.
A special gate for nights At night the big gates were closed for security reasons. But there was a small gate, just big enough for a single man to get through. A camel would have had difficulties to get through this little gate.
Christ meant something totally different No matter what we try, big needle, small camel, gate in the wall, keep all commandments, give all your possessions to the poor… We cannot get into heaven by our own doing. It is impossible!
We need help! Truth is, without Christ we will not get into heaven. “For mortals its impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
We cannot do anything The young man appeared to be a good god-fearing man. He had tried to live according to the law. However, the law is more than letters. The intentions of the heart are important. Hebrews says: “[The word of God] is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” We will never be good in God’s eyes. Christ told him right at the beginning: “No one is good but God alone.”
The “eye of the needle” is not just the possessions the young man owned. If he gave his possessions only to get into heaven, it would be a selfish act. Paul says in 1 st Corinthians 13:3 “If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
There is a different way to heaven! In actual fact this story teaches us that we cannot get into heaven through merits. We cannot earn our ticket to heaven!
Grace makes things possible Eph 2:4,5, 8-10 (NIV) But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We’ve got it already! We need to trust the promise that in Christ we have access to God’s Kingdom already, independent from our own doing. If we can trust this promise, we don’t need to hold fearfully on to our possessions, to our “life insurance.” Christ is our new life insurance. Thus, we can leave everything behind and follow him, without actually losing anything.
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Amen Let us sing : 494 Jesus Calls Us, O’er the Tumult