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The Camel and the Eye of the Needle

I took an interesting rabbit trail as I prepared for Sunday’s message (02/08/2009), and then didn’t have time to include any of it in the actual presentation.  So I thought I would blog about it briefly and give a couple of the links I followed.

The starting point for the rabbit trail was the famous comment about the camel and the eye of the needle:

Mark 10:23-27 (NIV)
Mk 10:23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 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.” 26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

What did Jesus mean when he talked about a camel going through the eye of a needle? Several theories have been proposed over the years, but I subscribe to the theory that he meant it was just plain impossible: a camel can’t go through the eye of a needle, and a rich man can’t be saved, except by God’s direct intervention.

For a discussion of the options and an argument for my conclusion, visit this blog on a site called ‘God & Mammom’.

The difficulty with Jesus’ teaching about riches is that it’s hard to take them seriously enough. We find excuses for not being radical in our use of possessions. I love this satire at the Wittenburg Door.

The whole discussion about the camel was a response to Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler. He said “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” It’s easy to dismiss this as applying only to the ruler, because Jesus understood his heart. The problem is that I think Jesus understood many hearts with that same diagnosis – maybe yours and mine.

Derek Webb wrote a song called “Rich Young Ruler” which is very well presented on Youtube with a ‘middle class commentary’ by a group called ‘Community Christian’.