When we are tucked away in our shelters and seeing the storm that rages outside our window, it is fairly easy to lose perspective. The storm is all around us, its power is ominous, and we huddle in our refuge wondering, waiting, wishing we could abide here but knowing that we must go out into that storm to do that which we must.
This imagery could be applied to several object lessons, that could be fitting, but the one I want to point out is that when we face that which seems certain to unbridle its threat upon us, we can easily focus on what we are facing instead of who faces it with us.
Looking at them, Jesus said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.”
Mark 10:27 (CSB)
Let’s put this verse in context.
We were talking about this very situation recently. This is the man that ran up to Jesus, called him “Good Teacher” and asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life.
Jesus immediately questions the man as to why he would refer to him as good, for no one was good but God alone.
But we stopped short in this setting when we talked about it on the 5th because we were focused on just how ‘awesome’ God is, not so much the plight of the man asking Jesus about eternal life.
Jesus went on to direct the man who said that he had kept the law from his youth, to go and sell all he had, give to the poor, and dedicate his life to following Jesus.
The man went away grieving, Mark tells us because he had Many possessions.
Jesus then told his disciples…
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.”
Mark 10:25 (CSB)
“The eye of a needle” wasn’t a small hole in a sharpen shaft that you push thread through to sew. This eye of a needle was a security entrance to a city at the time. This entry point was very narrow and didn’t have much height. It would only allow a single person or animal to pass through at a time. Camels would have to be unloaded and their goods passed through the small opening then forced to crawl through in order to pass through the eye.
City’s did this as a security measure at night. They would close up the gate and fortify it so a charge from outside couldn’t penetrate and ransack the city in the dark.
Typically, a couple of guards could easily repel any hostile force attempting to breach the city wall through the eye with ease. Carts and heavy equipment were not able to pass through the eye so an invading force would only be able to exert minimal force through that small opening.
Jesus was saying that for a person to become his disciple, it required unloading everything that encumbers them so that they can get up on their knees and crawl through that small opening with nothing on their back.
This, of course, was an illustration, but the concept is clear, and the rich among us are no different than those who have little or nothing at all. To become a follower of Jesus Christ it requires that we surrender all we have to all he is. He is the focus. He is who we seek to emulate, learn and grow from. He is the one who gives us life and light and that light is ours to spread to all in our reach.
It was then that Jesus replied to his disciples there with him, “With man it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.”
Because despite the storm around us, no matter what our position and prestige are, there is only one way possible for humanity to realize life eternal, and that comes through the complete surrender of ourselves, possessions, abilities, desires, and passions, to Jesus and follow him. Be his Disciple.
We sometimes see the story of the rich man, used as a lesson for the wealthy that they had better take care of the poor among us, but Jesus was saying more than that. Yes, he told the rich man to sell everything and follow him, but he says the very same to us.
There is only one way to circumvent the spiritual death we are born into. That involves total surrender, sheading our possessions and committing all to Jesus who we are or ever will be, realizing everything that is our possession, is his because we are his.
And with God (Jesus), nothing is impossible. The lesson of the rich man is a reason to consider what we have surrendered and what we have attempted to hold back for ourselves. Jesus wants it all turned over to him so that he can circumvent death on our behalf, and we will see life eternally with him.
In His Grace,