Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, 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.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:23-26).
Sometimes I think Jesus absolutely delighted in shaking up the disciples’ world. He regularly challenged the status quo and gave His followers a whole new perspective on matters. The story in today’s text is a prime example. His willingness to let the rich young man walk away because of the man’s love of money didn’t make sense to those around Jesus. In Jewish life in those days, wealth was a sign of God’s favor. The wealthy were “obviously” blessed by God and were certainly “saved” in their belief system.
So when Jesus said, “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 heaven,” it was devastating to the disciples. Their response showed alarm: “Who then can be saved?” If rich people can’t make it, how do the rest of us have any hope at all?
Jesus went vertical on them. He spoke with heaven’s perspective on the issue. Wealth is a major obstacle because the wealth itself becomes an object of worship. In the case of this young man, Jesus’ instruction was absolutely radical. Get rid of your wealth and then follow me! It was a clear action step directed at this individual, but the principle behind it is for all of us. Leave behind whatever gets in the way of whole-hearted discipleship. It doesn’t have to be wealth, but other things in our lives that rob God of His glory. Going vertical with Jesus puts everything into its proper place and perspective.
Lord Jesus, it seems like such a difficult thing You asked of this rich young man. Yet You saw into his heart and wanted what was best for him. You knew what would set him free and gave him the opportunity to make the right choice. Thank You for doing the same for me. Help me to bring everything to You. Give me the strength to lay aside anything that might hinder my whole-hearted love and commitment to follow You wherever You might lead.
–Adapted from Vertical with Jesus: A 30-Day Journey to Impact Kingdom Living by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God, the one whose name is great among the nations (Mal. 1:11). Give thanks that the good news is being preached in so many countries today and that it has been proclaimed to you, too. Confess anything in your life which hinders your own witness to the saving grace of Christ. Commit yourself to regular prayer support of missionaries whom you know. Ask God to open doors for their ministries.
Your family can be a missionary family right in your neighborhood! Ask for opportunities for your family to be a witness among your neighbors and friends. (And then be ready when God answers!)
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