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A story of a rich young man, a camel that gets through the eye of a needle, and the kingdom of God.

camel
I’ve been reading a book called “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard, and it really is an eye opening book. It was written in 1997, and Dallas Willard has since passed away, so there really is nothing “new” in the book. But, it is a new way of seeing for me, some “new eyes” if you will, and since I write and share here about things I learn along my own spiritual journey, I’m going to write about this. The reason I wanted to read the book is because I had read and heard there is much in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and there is. I will be sharing on the sermon on the mount over the next coupe of months, but I’m not there yet. In the meantime, this story of the rich young man shows us some of the same things. It’s used by Jesus to challenge some basic assumptions about life in his own time – and ours.

everlasting-life-from-the-spirit
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” This story is in Matthew, Mark and Luke, but I believe the phrase “Good teacher” only appears here in Mark. This young man clearly had it all together. He has heard of Jesus, and obviously he’s heard good things. He’s successful in life, and probably knows how to get what he wants from people. So, just maybe, using the phrase “Good teacher” here is simply him using his powers of persuasion here to try to get the response from Jesus that he’s looking for. But Jesus is having none of that – And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Jesus will not be manipulated. But he does know exactly who he’s talking to. He knows this young man follows all the rules. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ These, of course, are all the rules and laws which were supposed to bring blessing and eternal life. And, of course, this rich young man knows all these rules, he’s very good at following rules and getting God’s blessing in his life. And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”

treasureinheaven
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. In Marks account here, we don’t learn that the young Man is rich until right here. Isn’t it interesting that it specifically says that Jesus loved him? He loved him enough to tell him the truth. He loved his disciples enough to tell them the truth. He loves us enough to tell us the truth. And what is that truth? That being rich, making money and acquiring possessions is not a sign of God’s blessing in your life. Sounds strange, it’s even strange for me to write this, but it’s true. Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Is it disheartening for you?

rich
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!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. His disciples are amazed at his words because, in their time, acquiring wealth was perceived as a sign of God’s favor on someone’s life. And of course it is, right? Doesn’t God control all? Doesn’t he have power over who gains wealth and who doesn’t?? But the problem is…this young man loved his wealth more than He loved God. How can God bless someone in such a state? When Jesus prompts him to choose between loving God or loving his money…he chose his money. However reluctant he may have been. He knows the right choice…but he just has so many nice things!!

eye-of-the-needle
But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”” Jesus doubles back here, making sure his disciples don’t miss the point. He uses the absurd illustration of a camel passing through the eye of a needle to show how difficult it is for a rich man to live for the kingdom of God. And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Again…at this time, it was thought that having great wealth was a sign of being in God’s favor. This is why it says the disciples were exceedingly astonished. They just couldn’t believe what they were hearing from their teacher. The assumption was that the kingdom if God was for the rich. After all, they certainly have it going on as far as we can tell, right? And if they can’t enter the kingdom of God, those people who have it all together who God is blessing with such great wealth…Then who can be saved?
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” He uses the absurd illustration of the camel and the needle, but is sure to make it clear that it is not impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom and live or God. On his own the rich man has no chance, but with God all things are possible, right?
And just exactly how is it that a poor man might be saved? For all things are possible with God. That is the point. The kingdom of God is open to all. We see only the outward signs, we think we can pick out this person is blessed, that person is not. We still believe that our wealth (or lack thereof) is a sign of God’s blessing on our lives. It is how we measure the blessing we are receiving or not receiving. We pray for a job, a new house, a car. We very often are praying for things, because things are how we measure ourselves. We think we can look at someone else’s life and see what kind of blessings they are receiving.

barbarian
But we simply don’t see the world as as God does. The apostle Paul would later tell us “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The kingdom of God is available to all. Eternal life can be had by all. It is not reserved for those who can pay for it. It is nit exclusively for those who are part of selected groups. Neither are those who have it all in this life excluded from the kingdom. We all have the exact same opportunity For all things are possible with God.  

“And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 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!” 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! 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.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:17-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mrk.10.17-27.esv

John Lewis

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4 thoughts on “Then Who Can be Saved??

    1. Thank you Rick!! It is an important question, but one we don’t ask ourselves very often. The answer, I believe, is ANYONE can be saved! Doesn’t mean we all will be saved, but none of us is outside the reach, hope and possibility of the kingdom of God!!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you John from Germany. Your absolutely right. The Lord Jesus ist great and His grace is unmatched.
    Everyone may come and get forgiveness, new life und communion with the Son of God. I found Him 52 years ago, when he saved me out of the roman church. Warm greatings from Germany. Rudi

    Liked by 1 person

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