He was young. Probably early twenties. The majority of his life lay ahead of him.
He was wealthy, extremely so. Unlike most who spend years accumulating wealth, he already had his.
He was influential. Already he sat with the governing body of his people.
He was moral. Not many could say that they had kept the commandments all their lives. He said he did.
But deep down this rich young leader knew he lacked the greatest treasure anyone could have--eternal life. Recognizing in Jesus a supreme goodness he himself did not possess, this young man asked the Lord what he had to do to gain eternal life (Matthew 19:16-26)
When Jesus told him to keep the commandments, he replied that he had. But Jesus knew that this was not completely true, for the man had failed to keep the commandment to love his neighbor as himself.
Proof? He had not been generous with all that wealth. Money meant more to him than eternal life, earthly treasure more than heavenly treasure.
So, unwilling to admit his self-centeredness, he turned and walked away.
From a heart filled with disappointment and live, Jesus remarked to His disciples how difficult it is for wealthy people to enter the kingdom of God (v.23)
How difficult, Lord? As difficult as a camel going through the eye of a needle.
A camel? The largest animal in Palestine in those days, humps sticking up and neck lifted high and haughty above the crowd.
A sewing needle? Small, very small. The eye of that needle. Even smaller.
How ludicrous. A camel trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle. That’s how difficult it is for those who trust in money even to think about eternal life.
Why so, Lord? Because possessions make us comfortable. Money focused our eyes on this world, not on the one to come. Being able to have what we want deceives us into thinking that we have no needs, especially spiritual ones. Success appears to mean God is smiling on us now; so surely He won’t keep us out of heaven later.
Is there any hope, Lord? Yes, He says loud and clear. What is impossible for humans to do─gain eternal life on their own─is entirely possible for God to do for us (v.26)
How? By giving His Son to die for our self-centeredness and all our other faults. By paying with the death of Christ the penalty sin requires. By offering to anyone who will receive it the gift of eternal life.
The Bible says, “ Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18)
The result? “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36)
That rich young man sensed his need, but he was unwilling to renounce the gods of possessions, pride, and position, and turn to the Savior.
Please don’t be like him. No amount of money or success can substitute for eternal life. It’s impossible to get to heaven through the eye of a needle. But it is possible through believing in Jesus Christ who is the only way.
Jesus plainly said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6)
Be sure you don’t miss out!
Charles C. Ryrie