Camels and Needles

Oct. 11                              

Jesus’ statement that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God has always been a source of debate.  Obviously it is an impossibility, but all kinds of explanations have been offered to rationalize the  statement, none of them very convincing.  The answer is fairly easy.  Jesus is using hyperbole, which is an exaggeration in order draw attention to the issue at hand.  He did this on other occasions.  For example, He talks about the plank in one’s eye while he is trying to get the speck out of another person’s eye.  One thing often overlooked in this passage is that Jewish Rabbis much before Jesus’ time used the exact idiom to express anything that was totally impossible.  The disciples apparently did not recognize the idiom as hyperbole.  I think they were familiar with the Rabbinical use and took it to mean that no rich person could enter into the kingdom of God.  Jesus modified the force of the idiom by saying that with God all things are possible.  And he reassured the disciples that their leaving everything behind would not go unrewarded.  Nevertheless, riches is too often a stumbling block, just as it was with the rich young ruler.  Remember that it is the love of money, not the possession of money that is the problem.  If your trust is in material things, that becomes your god.  No man can serve two masters.

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