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“Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, ‘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 someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’”—Mark 10:23–25 (NIV)
My great grandmother was a crochet beader and would hand sew tiny beads onto dresses in the 1920s. These dresses were works of art and worn by celebrities of the day. On the contrary, I’m not a seamstress, but I can put a button back on with a needle and thread. The most difficult part of the process is actually getting the tiny piece of string into the thin hole on the needle.
If that’s difficult, imagine trying to get a giant animal to go through that thin hole. This is the analogy Jesus uses to talk about how difficult it is for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. It’s so ridiculous, that it’s funny!
This interaction with the disciples takes place right after His conversation with the rich young ruler. Mark says that Jesus felt genuine love for this man. He was devout. He was sincere. But when Jesus told him to sell everything he had to follow Him, the man went away sad. We don’t know if he ever did sell his possessions, but Jesus took the opportunity to teach the disciples another lesson.
The disciples were amazed. Some translations use the word “astonished,” which means impressed, or greatly surprised. Why? Logically, if a person is rich, especially in Jesus’ day, they must be doing something right. This rich man followed all of the commandments. He worked hard to get what he had. His wealth could be correlated with blessing and favor.
But Jesus once again flips these societal norms and assumptions upside down. Accomplishments and success on earth do not bring you closer to salvation. You see, people who “have it all” on their own will have no need for God. Their trust is in their stuff rather than on Jesus. When you have little or nothing, it’s easy to give it all up to follow Jesus. What do you have to lose?
Let’s look at Jesus, the Son of God, and consider how He was willing to put on flesh and walk among the disciples—and ultimately give up His life for us! He was obedient to give it all and His resurrection offers us the promise of eternal life. This is the good news! The amazing thing about the gospel is that in giving up everything, we gain everything in this life and in the life to come. Following Jesus is better than anything this world has to offer.
This isn’t a call to extremism, and I’m not telling you to sell everything in order to follow Jesus. This is a call to place our trust in Jesus above all else so it’s easier to follow Him!
Pause: Where is your trust? What is the most important thing in your life? What do you prioritize?
Practice: Take time to think about your time, your finances, and your relationships. Invite the Holy Spirit to search your heart for anything you trust more than God. If Jesus is calling you to a deeper trust in Him, be obedient to give up anything that holds you back from following Him.
Pray: Jesus, thank You for humbling Yourself and being obedient to death on a cross. Thank You for giving up everything, so that in You I might find everything I need. Forgive me for placing anything above You in my life. Help me to trust You every day and follow You closely in every moment. Amen.
Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.