But Jesus looked at them and said,
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Matthew 19:26 (ESV)
Series Focus: “Thy Kingdom Come”
Are you someone who is grateful for being able to use a GPS? I doubt anyone enjoys the feeling of being lost in a strange city. When I am driving through new places I tend to trust this device to get me to my destination safely. Some of us use our mobile phones—with our favorite directional app, while others use the GPS built into their vehicle. Of course, there are still some who rely on good ole’ pen and paper directions. Because I despise road construction, and hope to avoid a lot of roadblocks, I use my GPS regularly. It gets me out of those tricky situations almost always. But when the device gets confused, well, I end up in a place I never wanted to be.
Just like driving with a navigation system, we live our lives maneuvering through tricky situations, hard moments, and sometimes we do end up against a barrier. We will have moments in our lives requiring us to choose our direction. One particular decision will have an everlasting impact upon us—we need to choose wisely.
Jesus encountered a man, a rich, young ruler, as He was teaching. This man came running to Jesus and asked Him, “How can I inherit eternal life?” Knowing the man had kept all of God’s commandments—all of his life—Jesus tells the ruler in Luke 18:22-27 what he lacks.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult 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.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Can you picture the rich ruler’s face as Jesus spoke? Scripture doesn’t say the man was angry or bitter. It says he was sad. He couldn’t face giving up all the riches he had in order to follow Jesus. The ruler knew who Jesus was. He called Jesus the Good Teacher earlier in the scripture passage. The rich man ran to meet Him and clearly wanted to learn from Him. But the barrier was his wealth. Even when he realized all his treasure on earth stood between him and eternal life, he still couldn’t leave it behind.
Jesus could see the man’s heart, and though he had followed the rules and practiced the law – all of his life – his heart was never truly set upon God. He was immersed in his possessions, his position, and his power. It was too much to trade-in.
I think he wanted to break the barrier. Was it greed, selfish desires, pride or maybe fear holding him back? Possibly, but we can’t be certain. It could be a myriad of reasons. But here is the important reflection—do you have a barrier? Have you received Jesus as your Savior? Are you still holding on so tightly to something else, that if you had to choose today, it would cause you to say “no” to Christ?
Maybe you have never experienced the Jesus of the Bible. You can’t grasp the idea of giving up control and allowing Jesus to navigate you forward. You can’t believe He loved you enough, even in your sin, to give up His life for you. It is easier to choose the earthly things when they are right in front of you.
We have two roads we can opt to drive down. One leads to Christ and eternal life. The other does not. This parable Jesus taught isn’t just for people with wealth; that was the ruler’s personal barrier. We all have a potential barrier. Think of it this way—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for some of us to let go of what we hold dearly—in order to choose eternal life with Jesus. Which direction will your GPS take you?
Lord, please help me, lead me, and guide me into Your truth and Your kingdom. It is through grace alone that I may enter. I don’t want anything to stand in my way. On my own it is impossible, but with You, oh God, all things are possible! Amen.
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Luke 18:18-27; Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-27; John 3:16; John 14:6