Sunday Sermon 8: The Eye of The Needle Principle
Summary: One of the most difficult teaching (Yet true) teachings of Jesus concerns the “eye of the needle”. While this is not a theological exegesis of the text, this message speaks to practical truths found in this text.
· “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
· These are the words of Jesus as recorded for 3 of the 4 gospels and what I have termed the “Principle of the Eye of the Needle.” And for those of us who think this is a stunning statement, so did the disciples.
· In fact, they were so concerned at this statement, that scripture records they were astonished, amazed, utterly astonished, and even more amazed at the ‘demands’ of Christ.
For the person who has spent time in God’s word, you know that these words were spoken in the aftermath of the encounter with the Rich Young Ruler.
Every time I read this text I ponder a couple of questions, “What was it that tipped Jesus off to the truth that this rich man was not really interested in discovering God’s requirements for salvation & eternal life?”
a) Could it have been his Appearance? Do you think he walked up with every hair in place, the smell of expensive cologne, his beard extra neat, and his face laced with a hint of cream?
b) Could it have been his Attire? – Perhaps as he planned to come and see Jesus he carefully planned what he would or could wear to make Jesus aware of who ‘he was?’ After all, he was an up and coming young man who already possessed the trappings of success and wealth. – So called celebs in today’s Kenya.
c) Could it be that this man came to Jesus with an attitude?
To read the text is glean the idea that this is a real possibility. Both Mark and Luke quote the man as beginning the conversation with “Good Teacher.” This could be a sign of respect or disrespect, of admiration or sarcasm.
While we do not know exactly how Jesus knew, we need to understand that Jesus saw through the verbal games this young man was playing. And Jesus sees through the verbal games we play. We say or sing,
“I Love you Lord”, while my love for Him is overshadowed by my love for my comfort, my convenience, and my desires.
“I will serve you”, while our service has to take its place in my laundry list of other priorities.
“I will tell others about you,” while the word of our mouth and the meditations of our heart are acceptable in OUR sight instead of His.
“I will be faithful to you,” yet we will be more faithful to the things of this temporary world than to the eternal one who died for us.
To look at this “Rich Young Ruler” is to discern the problem of today.
We are the rich of this world. Here is a little perspective; over a billion people attempt to survive on less than $1 a day. They live and die in abject poverty. Beyond this, close to two billion people live on less than $2 a day. That is nearly half the population of the world struggling to find the necessities of life – Food, Water, and shelter.
Today, over 26,000 children will die due to either starvation or preventable diseases. While these numbers may be too enormous to ‘fathom’, these are real people and their plight demonstrates how rich in earthly goods we are.
As rich people we need to hear and receive the warnings of Jesus and God’s word about the difficulty of entering the Kingdom of God. Scripture makes it clear that many ‘who believe themselves to be saved are truly lost.’ I dare say this is never more true than with the wealthy.
1) The Corruption of the Rich
The Bible does not say that “money is the root of all evil” as some might think. Rather, Paul writes to Timothy to say, “The love of money is the root of ALL KINDS of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”
The Greek word for root is like a sprout in the ground which grows into a huge bush, a shoot. When we fall in love with money, it takes over our lives like briers take over a pasture, bringing nothing but havoc.
Hebrews also tells us that we should be ‘free from the love of money.’ While it is true that power corrupts, it is equally true that being wealthy creates the environment for corruption. Why?
a) Lean on their resource
When the Young man came to Jesus, it would seem that Jesus immediate saw through the façade of this young man and identified his problem. His problem was that his financial resources had become the god in his life.
Jesus said, “Have you kept all the commandments?” Can you see the ruler’s face as he responded, “Yes, I have.” And yet, even in this response I can imagine the heart of our Lord being made sad. This man was not ready to admit his need but rather was expecting Jesus to say, “That’s great! Sign this card! Join the church! We need your money!”
God needs neither this man’s money nor yours. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Those who love Him give to Him out of a heart of deep love, devotion, commitment, and obedience. Neither you nor I have enough to impress God. We may have a few resources on this earth, God IS the ultimate resource! The rich tend to believe God needs them.
b) Look for an easier way
There is no doubt in my mind that this Rich kid thought he had a leg up on being received by Jesus & getting his ticket punched for heaven. Yet, Jesus is not a train conductor.
* He did not die to punch your ticket, He died to forgive your sin and bring you into a right relationship with the Father. We must repent, we must believe, and we must receive Jesus and His offer of salvation. I would suggest to you that, because his status (rich), this young man may have thought Jesus would treat him with deference and respect.
* In Acts 8 we discover the equivalent of a modern day rich man living in Bible times. When Simon the sorcerer saw the power of God through the Holy Spirit, he tried to ‘buy’ the power and blessing of God with his ‘wealth.’ Peter did not give the politically or church answer, he busted the man, calling it like it was. (Read Romans 8:20-22) The wealthy tend to want to ‘buy’ their way into the Kingdom, it’s easier. Today they buy political positions.
c) Live for self – The most sobering part of this story is that Jesus allowed this Rich Young Ruler to “WALK AWAY.” When Jesus said, “Go sell all you have and distribute it to the poor, and follow me” Jesus was pointing out to the man the depth of his sin and the breath of his selfishness.
The man refused to turn all he had over to the Lord. Was it a sin to be rich? I don’t think so. It is true that earthly wealth is helpful for taking the gospel to the world. But it is equally true that wealth has a way of taking a good person, even a believer, and turning them into a selfish, self-centered, and self-serving person.
That is what many politicians in Kenya transform into the moment they are elected to County Assemblies, Parliament, Senate and Governor’s office. The honourable and excellences become too important to answer telephone calls from their erstwhile friends and colleagues because they have been elevated to a social status many Kenyans never will.
However, many will keep an appointment with a witch doctor without fail than go to Church on Sundays for fear of meeting with the wretched poor voters on whose shoulders they ascended to their newly found wealth and misplaced power, vanishes as soon as they are voted out, except the corrupt ones who metamorphosize into political brokers. Kenyan MPs, Senators and MCAs are united by Corruption.
Dear Kenyan voters, choose your leaders wisely come August 8th, 2017. Don’t be swept away by false promises by politicians known never to deliver basic necessities in communities, which have elected them for decades and have done nothing to the electorate except enrich themselves.
Do not elect someone on the basis of Tribe, witchcraft or Corruption Money bribery.