Monday, March 12, 2007



A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'" "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.

This ruler is apparently a leader, a successful businessman. Matthew writes about this man, too, and describes him as a young man who had an abundance of possessions.

His question is a powerful and pointed one. He must be feeling some sense of spiritual inadequacy. He seems to believe that eternal life is something you can earn or inherit or acquire.

NOTE the rich, young ruler, even though he had been keeping the commandments, he still felt a lack in his life. Jesus perceptively targets in on that lack. Note what happens: When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Jesus here gives the answer to the original question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer? DON’T LET ANYTHING YOU HAVE OR YOU ARE SEPARATE YOU FROM YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. He goes on to say, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, THEN you will have treasure in heaven. THEN COME, FOLLOW ME.” This is a tough saying, yet very, very simple. Eternal life has everything to do with a relationship—FOLLOW ME. In this man’s case, it was necessary to say to him to sell all and give to the poor in order to get to the heart of his real god he was holding on to.

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God."

The rich, young ruler was sad, because he knew what Jesus was saying to him was true. It was his wealth that was keeping him from entering the kingdom of God. It’s important to note that it is not his wealth per se, but his holding it closely as something too dear to him—even more important than a relationship with God. This is proven by his sadness and that instead of coming to Jesus in order to follow Him, he was obviously going to walk away.

NOTE the question that was asked Jesus: Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus replied, "What is impossible with human beings is possible with God."

Jesus’ answer was clear. No matter who you are—rich or poor, being saved or having eternal life or entering into the kingdom of God is an impossibility in human terms, but not with God. With God the impossible becomes possible.

Over the years I’ve traveled into the Middle East. And, in Jerusalem it is continually explained what it means for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. They show you a small opening that a camel on its knees and stripped of all of its baggage could squeeze through with great difficulty. That sounds like it may be true. But then I came to realize Jesus’ words here. This salvation thing is not just difficult, but impossible. So, it makes so much more sense to me now that having salvation from God (eternal life) for a rich person who has so many things to distract him away from God is like a camel going through a large knitting needle. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! BUT GOD specializes in the impossible. What is impossible with humans is possible with God. Talk about AMAZING GRACE—how sweet the sound!