And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
You know what? I think all of that stuff about the door to the Temple that was really narrow being the “eye of the needle” is a bunch of crap. If Jesus was talking about that, then the disciples would have reacted the way we do:
Oh, Jesus just means that to make it through, you have to take your luggage off of your camel.
No, [redacted]! They freaked out! They were struck, astonished, amazed! They began defending themselves (Peter: We’ve left everything! Isn’t that enough?!)
It is troubling and it should be. What in the world would Jesus consider “rich” and would that same thing count today? The point, as always with Jesus, is not that you need to do a certain deed to enter the Kingdom of God. That’s how the rich man thought. That’s how the disciples thought. Over and over again, Jesus was pushing them to re-think.
He sums it all up right here:
“Then who can be saved?!” [they asked]
“With man it is impossible, but not with God. All things are possible with God.”
Did you catch that? Salvation is impossible with man. Man can’t do it. The rich young man wanted to know what he could do. Rather than flat out tell him no, Jesus showed the young man his barriers. It’s just like Jesus to beckon us, to draw us, like a kid playing hide and seek and making noises the whole time so you’ll find him.
If that rich man would have given up his possessions like Jesus told him, he would have been desperate. He would have seen that he was incapable of anything, much less achieving eternal life.
It is not our accomplishment or righteous attainment that swings us into eternal life, but our helpless, dependent willingness to be pushed.