Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. — Matthew 19:24 NIV
This is a revelation that Jesus gives after a talk with the man known as the “rich young man” who comes to Him asking, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” This story appears not only in Matthew, but in the Gospels of Mark and Luke as well. Jesus’ first response to him is that he must obey the commandments. It seems that the rich young man is trying to find the easy path and responds by asking “which ones.” When Jesus recites a paraphrasing of the commandments, the young man replies, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”
It is here that Jesus silences him with the response, “Go sell your possessions and give to the poor, then come follow me.” The young man realizes that deep down inside, he cannot do this because he has great wealth and walks away downcast. It is at this time that the disciples gather around Jesus as he shares the “eye of the needle” analogy with them, quoted in the above Scripture.
This is a passage that has been the subject of many discussions pertaining to the meaning behind it. We often like to conjure up this passage when we “bash” rich people (rich people being anyone who has more money than we do).
Yet by doing so, I think we are missing the point of the parable. From the story, it appears that the young man does all the right things that a good devout man of faith should do. He obeys all the commandments. He appears to be a righteous man. Yet there is one thing that he cannot surrender to give his whole heart to God. We can say that is his “eye of a needle."
The Christian author, Karen Moore, challenges us, in that we must ask ourselves the same question, “what is our eye of a needle?” What is blocking us from giving our whole heart to God? She writes, “We’ve given to others, applied our hearts to charity, and attended church on a regular basis. As far as we can tell, we’ve been model citizens. So, what stops us from taking that one last step to make a full commitment?”
We often get settled in our walk with Christ and feel that we have done enough. And knowing the good people of St. Andrew’s, the church is overflowing with faithful, loving, and caring people. But is there one last commitment that is holding us back? We may say, like the rich young, man, “I cannot give that up. It would be like a camel going through the eye of a needle.” Yet we are encouraged by Jesus’ final statement in the story of his encounter with the young man in Scripture, “With God, all things are possible.”