The wealthy young official walks away and Jesus remarks, “How hard it is for those who trust in wealth to enter God’s kingdom! It is easier for a camel to go through the Eye of a Needle than for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom.”
I saw a PBS program showing a gate near Jerusalem that was so narrow it was called “Eye of a Needle.” It was very difficult for a loaded camel to pass through. Jesus compares.
The young man had to unload baggage. To choose between stuff and having his heart healed.
The young official couldn’t give up his lifestyle to surrender to God, even though his heart pulled him to. For a moment in Jesus presence he had felt truly loved, felt the acceptance and freedom of living in love, loving others. That’s why the sorrow as he walked away.
He really wanted love, but the price was too high, his life was too good. Only one thing was missing, but it was vital: without God’s love, selfishness would strengthen, ruining him.
It often happens that loving the outward life of fame and notoriety conflicts with getting your heart needs satisfied. Or perhaps the conflict is in waiting–having your wealth in the next life vs. having it now.
After one parable Jesus said, “Where you put your time and attention, you’ll find your heart.” After another he said, “It isn’t possible to serve both God and money.” Often after teaching the crowds he ended with, “Be careful how you see, …how you hear”.
Our perceptions create our reality.
Matthew 19:22-26, Mark 10:22-31, Luke 18:23-30
A wealthy young government official watches Jesus with the children. His heart stirs. A desire for the love and tenderness Jesus gives them causes an impulsive action. He runs after Jesus when he leaves, feeling drawn to him.
“Good master,” he begins unsure of what to say, “how can I get eternal life?”
Jesus confronts him, drawing out his true question, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God.” (In effect he says, Do you know who I am? Do you know it’s God’s love you want?) Then he cuts through, “If you want real life, keep the commandments,” and reviews the ones about loving your neighbor.
To which the official responds, “I have done that since I was a child. What am I missing?”
Jesus looks at the hunger in this man’s heart and loves him; he so wants to have him as a follower, to satisfy his heart longing, to develop teachableness in him, to use his many gifts and abilities to help others.
“You lack just one thing,” says Jesus, “Sell your stuff, give to the poor, and come invest with me.” He sees the flaw that will be his undoing. The man trusts his position, his possessions, his piety.
The ruler is stunned; the price is too high. He loves that he is young, wealthy and accomplished. Sadly he walks away.
Even more sadly, Jesus watches him go, saying, “How hard love is for men who are owned by their possessions!”
Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, Luke 18:18-23
Jesus loves children, finding their pure openness and unaffected love refreshing. Little hearts are tender and impressionable, open to Spirit and strong to remember his stories–the kind of people he wants in his kingdom.
If parents give them every opportunity to learn of God’s love while they are young and their characters still adaptable, they won’t grow up hard-hearted.
Many regard true affection as weakness; their happiness is ruined because their better self was stifled in childhood. The expression of love toward God and each other wasn’t encouraged, but God’s love can melt the hardness.
A mother teaching children to obey because they love her, is teaching them to obey God out of love.
Fathers representing God’s authority, don’t need to be harsh or unkind. Jesus wasn’t discourteous or disrespectful, even cutting to the heart with the rudest men.
His graciousness causes parents to treat their children as intelligent beings, as they would want to be treated, correcting them gently as a gardener trains vines and flowers.
Take them outside and teach them how the God of nature made an awesome creation as an expression of His love for us–that all living things are governed by laws protecting happiness and joy–everything designed to give.
Don’t keep your little ones from Jesus by being cold or hard. Don’t make them think he is joyless or negative if he is like you. Smile at them. God loves to give wisdom and tenderness to teach them, but you do have to ask for it.
Matthew 19:14-15, Mark 10:15-16, Luke 18:16-17