Wednesday, September 16, 2009


“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:24-27

Jesus says it is hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of God. He does not say rich people will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Rich people may enter the kingdom but not by their own efforts. The path into the kingdom of heaven is a hard path for rich people to take. Why?

This passage is found in the midst of a series of episodes that have to do with the kingdom. Who can enter the kingdom of heaven? How can one enter the kingdom of heaven? It immediately follows the episode of Jesus calling the infants and little children to come to him and be blessed. Then he says that the only way a person can come into the kingdom is to receive it in the same way these babies and toddlers received his blessing. There was nothing they could do to earn Jesus’ blessing and there was nothing they could offer to merit it. Who can enter? Those whom Jesus calls and blesses by his grace and mercy. How can they enter? By receiving Christ’s blessing.

The passage does not say that Jesus will not call or bless rich people. It simply says that it will be very difficult for rich people to enter the kingdom because they cannot do anything to earn Jesus’ blessing and they cannot offer anything to merit it.

Rich people usually do not know what it means to be in need. They have what they need as well as what they want. Their material wealth makes it hard for them to be aware of their spiritual need. Their physical comforts disguise their spiritual lack. In order to enter the kingdom of heaven they have to be made aware of their need and that can be a very painful process.

Many rich people do not know what it means to be wrong. They are accustomed to being agreed with. They are used to having their own way. Many of them almost live above the law and it has little effect on them. They often think they are good people and they are wealthy because they are good people and God has blessed them. It is hard for such people to recognize that they are sinners who need forgiveness and deliverance.

Rich people buy what they want and what they think they need. Anything can be bought! But the kingdom of heaven cannot be bought. Their wealth cannot buy a place in the kingdom. It would be very difficult for a person who is used to buying everything to be told that they cannot buy their way into God’s kingdom.

Rich people are not automatically bad people any more than poor people are automatically good people. Poor people are a discussion for another time. But rich people are not automatically good or blessed people. The people listening to Jesus made that mistake. “Who then can be saved?” In other words, if rich people have a hard time entering the kingdom, what hope do common folks like us have? Jesus’ listeners seemed to assume that rich people had a way of getting into the kingdom.

Rich people do have a way of entering the kingdom. It’s the same way any of us enter the kingdom. (And many rich people would disdain taking the same road as common folk!) Entrance into the kingdom of God depends on a miracle! It is a miracle that is impossible for men to perform but it is possible for God to perform it. God blesses people with his grace and mercy in the same way that Jesus blessed the babies and toddlers. He reaches into a person’s life and changes his heart! He gives him new life, new values, and new goals.

The rich man must have new life, new values, and new goals. If the rich man in the story had new life, new values, and new goals, he would have gladly sold all he had and given it to the poor. Jesus was showing him that all his law-keeping had not changed his heart. It had not given him new life, new values, or new goals. This is very difficult for a rich man who loves his wealth. It will be painful for him to change. He will enter the kingdom of God the same way anyone enters it; but he will have a much harder time learning to adjust to the life, values, and goals of citizenship in that kingdom!


At 8:01 AM, Blogger Anne of The House said...

True. Compelling. We see this. We ARE this.

The poor are used to being told they're wrong. The rich are used to being catered to.

Is it not tempting, in the church to cater to the rich to keep them happy in matters where power and control come into play? Are not the poor more gracious about being stepped-over? It takes guts to stand up to those who expect to have it their way. (makes me shiver!) I guess the 'learning to adjust' thing goes different ways.

Thanks for this!

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Anders Branderud said...

Dave Moorhead,
Hello! I want to comment on the kingdom of the Creator.

A logical analysis (found here: of the earliest manusscripts (including the logical implications of the research by Ben-Gurion Univ. Prof. of Linguistics Elisha Qimron of Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT) of “gospel of Matthew”, implies that the Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth was a Torah-teacher who kept and taught Torah all his life.

In NHM (Netzarim Hebrew Reconstruction of Matityahu) 12.28-29 he taught "the Realm of Elohim (the Creator) has come".
The above logical analysis implies that by that he meant that the Creator is in the heart of the Torah-keeper (Torah requires that we do our sincerest to keep the mitzwot (see Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4-9) in Torah; and the Creator does not change (Malakhi 3:6).

All the best, Anders Branderud


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