Jesus said some shocking things about money. I just want to put that out there in case you hadn’t run across some of his radical thoughts on the subject. For years I have heard Christians try to explain stories like the one in Mark 10: “It’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.” As soon as we read the words, we go scrambling to find a way to justify our lifestyles. Wasn’t there an old gate in the wall around Jerusalem that used to be called the eye of the needle?
In truth, Jesus likely means what he says. Imagine a very large camel and then imagine a very small sewing needle. Now imagine trying to squeeze that camel through the hole. If you allow Jesus’ word picture to tickle your imagination just a little bit, you will likely respond with the same shock and bewilderment his disciples experienced, “Then who can be saved?” To make matters worse, John Wesley, in his sermon “The Danger of Riches,” defined the word rich as “whoever has sufficient food to eat, and raiment to put on, with a place where to lay his [or her] head, and something over.”
We need not scramble for archaeological evidence for why it is difficult but not impossible to enter God’s kingdom. Jesus clarifies matters for us: Entering God’s kingdom is humanly impossible. Beware of how easily the things of this world can distract us from the main thing. Then, just when we think there is little or no hope, Jesus reminds us to throw ourselves on the mercy seat of God’s grace and forgiveness: “It’s impossible with human beings, but not with God. All things are possible for God.” Thank God. We don’t need an ancient gate; we need grace.
Lord, help me not to trust in things or riches but solely in your love and grace. Amen.
Faithful people still have questions for God. Job wishes he could sit down with God and plead his case because he wants God to justify what has happened to him. The psalmist, traditionally identified as David, also feels abandoned by God and wonders why God is not coming to his aid. God can handle our questions. Job wanted an advocate, and Hebrews says that Jesus now fills that role for us. He is our great high priest and understands our sufferings, so we may boldly approach him for help. In Mark, Jesus deals with the challenge of money. It is a powerful force and can come between God and us if we cling to our resources instead of holding them loosely with thanksgiving for God’s provision.
• Read Job 23:1-9, 16-17. When have you, like Eliphaz, attributed your own suffering or that of others to wickedness on your part or on theirs? How often do you find yourself blaming others for the situations in which they find themselves?
• Read Psalm 22:1-15. How could your prayer life be more honest and transparent? What feelings do you hold back?
• Read Hebrews 4:12-16. When God shines the spotlight on your soul, what does God see?
• Read Mark 10:17-31. How do you square your “wealthy” life with Jesus’ call to discipleship?
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