Sunday, 14 October 2012

Can a Camel go through a Needle's Eye?

Matthew 19: 23-24  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
In Matthew 19, Jesus has been teaching the people about entering the kingdom of God. He teaches that little children can come and when a young rich man confronts Jesus about entering the kingdom, we learn that it is hard for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven. That is to say that no amount of money can buy anyone a place in heaven. Then we have this quote from Jesus that many people find very troubling - It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. What does it mean? Many Bible teachers will say that Jesus is just saying that it is impossible simply because trusting in our riches will not save us. While that is completely true there is another important lesson here. Let me explain what my Dad taught me years ago. It starts with this studying this picture. ( The picture is taken from my German Picture New Testament that I got from my parents as a gift in 1970).
The very small door is "the Eye of a Needle"

In the Bible times the towns and cities had walls of stone all the way around the city. The walls were quite thick and people could easily walk on the top of the wall. We remember the story of Jericho and how Joshua and the people marched around the city each day for 6 days and on the 7th day they marched around seven times and when they shouted the walls came tumbling down. These types of walls had some larger doorways and gateways and as you can see in the picture there is a small door within the larger set of doors. This small door is called the "Eye of the Needle" or the Needle's Eye". So when Jesus spoke these words to the disciples they will have known very well that he spoke of the very small door of the city wall. In order for a camel to go through this small door, a camel would have to kneel down and allow itself to be helped through that door. So it is a picture of humility that Jesus is describing here. Just as we must come to Jesus for salvation in a childlike way  - a child is needy and trusting and doesn't doubt so also we come to Jesus in humility. We come in humility confessing our sins because we need Jesus to help us through the door to salvation exactly like the camel needs to humbly go on his knees and accept the help to come in. What Jesus says here about the camel going through the "Eye of the Needle" is really a very important lesson and beautiful picture of salvation.
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

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