If not the rich, then who?

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Matthew 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

This passage above follows the story of a rich young man, a devoted and upright Jew who has done all the right things in his life, asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him he could sell all his possessions and follow him as one of his disciples. The young man refuses and leaves disappointed. The passage above is Jesus’ commentary on the encounter with the rich young man.

V.24 is shocking to the disciples.

In ancient Israel it was assumed wealthy people had received a performative reward from God. If a rich person (presumably righteous before God) cannot enter God’s kingdom, who can? Certainly not the poor disciples! Then Jesus responds with v.26, “for God all things are possible”.

What Jesus doesn’t say is that NO ONE can enter God’s kingdom based on their performance. The only way to enter the kingdom is by grace alone. It is a gift. It seems to me it would have been easy for Jesus to have explained this a bit more, but he doesn’t. He sort of leaves the disciples scratching their heads.

But you and I should not be confused brothers and sisters. If our place before God was secured via our performance we would all be doomed. Yet Jesus has opened a path for us to enter God’s kingdom and receive both the blessings and responsibilities that come with it. Thanks be to God.

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