The Eye of the Needle

The eye of the needle

Who can enter into eternal life?  Or better yet, what impediment can keep us from sharing life with God.  In today’s gospel passage from Matthew, Jesus helps to clarify these issues.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich
to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Again I say to you,
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said,
“Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible.”

To understand this teaching, we need to understand two things.  First, the “eye of the needle” was a small hole in the Wall of Jerusalem that a believer could squeeze through and offer prayers after dark.  The hole was far too small for a camel to pass through. Second, in the time of Jesus it was believed that if a man acquired wealth he had been favored by God.  This is why the disciples were astonished.

What then was Jesus talking about?  Were the wealthy disfavored by God?

The answer is not that simple.  Jesus was teaching the disciples not to presume that they could know who God loves.  Also, he wanted them to understand that those who are favored with wealth have special challenges that make it more difficult for them to enter into God’s kingdom.  Specifically, one who is rich may be tempted to make money his god.  Salvation, therefore, can only be obtained if we are humble before God during our lives.

Submit totally to God’s will for your life.  Only this is pleasing to the Lord.

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