Verse of the Day Devotion: Mark 10:25
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25
This verse comes after Jesus’ discussion with the rich young ruler: the last part being Jesus telling him to sell everything and follow Him. “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.” Mark 10:21-22. After the young man left, Jesus said His disciples. “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:23b. Note, this is a statement, it is not a question. Jesus then repeated His words, this time referring to His disciples as children, a term of affection regarding the disciples, after which he declares the statement which is our focus verse. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25.
The camel was the largest animal found in Palestine. In this verse, Jesus compares the wealthy entering the kingdom of God to a camel going through the eye of a needle. This idea has been interpreted in several ways. One is that there was a gate in Jerusalem called “the eye of a needle” where the camel had to kneel to get through. Another is that because the Greek words for camel (kamelos) and rope (kamilos) are very similar that rope was actually meant. However, these false interpretations soften the seriousness that Jesus is trying to bring across.
This idea of a camel going through the eye of a needle is a saying or proverb found in both Jewish and Aramaic thought. To denote that something was impossible or outrageously difficult, they said that a camel or an elephant might as soon walk through a needle’s eye. What He was bringing out was that those who love his riches to the point they idolize them will find it impossible to enter the Kingdom of God. This was the situation with the rich young ruler. Jesus told him all that was left to follow Him was to give up his wealth by giving it to the poor, thus giving up that which he idolized. However, he walked off because he valued his wealth over Christ.
So, is Jesus actually saying it is impossible for anyone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God? In a sense, yes. When Jesus stated the impossibility of the rich, the disciples were astonished, but without any words to say. Therefore Jesus tells them the following, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27b. When we look at the rich young ruler, we see someone who was invited by Jesus to follow Him but declined because it would involve giving up more than he was willing to. And just as he was offered, so is everyone who has ever lived. Anyone can be saved by God’s grace; however this does not take away the responsibility we have to accept it. And we must accept it on His terms. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24.
In closing, without a desire to devote ourselves to God we will be swayed by what the world has to offer, for we can have that now. Wealth and riches have a way of luring people to acquire and keep what they have, making it more important than anything else. This is what Jesus was alluding to. However, if anyone struggles with this, then we can go to God, asking Him to reveal the reality that God is so much greater and more desirable than anything else. With man alone, it is impossible to give up everything for Christ. But with Him He will help us put our priorities in order, that being God first, then everything else. But only if it is what we truly desire.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.