Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Why? When did Jesus said this? How come he said this? What does it mean that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God?
It is difficult not because money is a hindrance. It is not easy because the love of money hinders the rich from loving God.
Jesus made this statement because a man asked him what to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus then told him about the commandments from the 5th to the 10th – all about loving our neighbour. The man confidently replied that he obeyed each one since he was young. Jesus saw through him and spoke the truth in love: “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
After this, the man went away sad because he was very rich. This response implied that he loved his wealth more than he loved God. Jesus knew his love for his wealth hinders him from fully following God. The man’s treasure on earth is more important to him than having treasure in heaven. Again money is not evil. It is good to have wealth and resources. When our love of material wealth and physical comfort is above our love for God, it becomes difficult for us to enter the kingdom of God. Why? Because the kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom. Man’s standard is to trust in the security that money provides. God wants us to trust fully in Him.
How often our material resources, our skills and talents make us self-sufficient and independent from God. We are complacent and we go through life secure in the things that we have. We put God to one side. The man in this story obeyed the commandments diligently – he never killed anyone, he did not steal or lie or cheat on his wife or anyone. He honoured his parents. What he lacked was the 1st to the 4th commandment – loving God.
Jesus even made a comparison that it is easier for the camel to go through the needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. To this, his amazed/surprised disciples asked: Who then can be saved? Jesus replied: “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
How did this passage end? 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Jesus said this in answer to Peter’s comment that all of them disciples have left everything to follow him.
Jesus encouraged Peter that all his followers who gave up everything (including all the securities of the world) for the cause of the gospel will get their reward – a hundred times as much.. in the future – eternal life. God’s kingdom is the upside down kingdom: many who are first will be last and the last first. The rich in this world are poor in God’s kingdom. The poor in this world are rich in God’s kingdom because they have God – they love God, they put their security in God.
Where is your security? How are you rich? In your material possessions? In your talents and skills? In your good relationships? Where are all these in relation to your God? Are you in God’s kingdom? For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.