In Mark 10 we have a rich man man walking away from Jesus – why – because he had many possessions and Jesus had just told him that in order to inherit eternal life he needed to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor and then follow Jesus. We don’t know then end of the story, perhaps this man did sell what he owned, perhaps he didn’t, but whatever the case on that day he walked away grieving because his possessions owned him and he couldn’t let go of the easily.
Jesus says it is impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God! He goes on to use the satire of a camel going through the eye of a needle. I have heard the needle described as a small gate in the wall of Jerusalem through which a man could walk, but a camel needed to shed it’s whole load and go through on bended knee. Although this analogy is rich in meaning the commentaries however say there is little evidence for this being true. We are left with the impossible. Or in the description of Canon J John, even if you were to liquidize the camel you still couldn’t get it through the eye of a needle!
His disciples were astonished at his saying. It was shocking to them because in their times riches were seen as a sign of God’s blessing, and poverty was seen as a sign of God’s curse.
Some of Jesus’ sayings are tough and hard, but we must not try to explain them away. There is however hope – what is impossible with man is possible to God, I am so glad about that because in terms of today’s world I am rich. The question that I struggle with is do I use my riches for the glory and benefit of God and his kingdom, or do my possessions own me and prevent me holding them loosely?