We went caving once – I know, difficult to believe, even I find it difficult to believe – how did I manage to get talked into that? There is photographic evidence, but I’m not sure the internet is ready for that!! But this gives you the idea
Anyway, the thing about caving is, if you want to achieve the aim, get to where you want to go, you have to squeeze through the smallest of gaps. There is no room to spare.
A Rich Man
17 As Jesus was walking down a road, a man ran up to him. He knelt down, and asked, “Good teacher, what can I do to have eternal life?”
18 Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good. 19 You know the commandments. ‘Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Do not cheat. Respect your father and mother.’”
20 The man answered, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man.”
21 Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, “There’s one thing you still need to do. Go sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me.”
22 When the man heard Jesus say this, he went away gloomy and sad because he was very rich.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “It’s hard for rich people to get into God’s kingdom!” 24 The disciples were shocked to hear this. So Jesus told them again, “It’s terribly hard to get into God’s kingdom! 25 In fact, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into God’s kingdom.”
26 Jesus’ disciples were even more amazed. They asked each other, “How can anyone ever be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything.”
28 Peter replied, “Remember, we left everything to be your followers!”
29 Jesus told him:
You can be sure that anyone who gives up home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or land for me and for the good news 30 will be rewarded. In this world they will be given a hundred times as many houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and pieces of land, though they will also be mistreated. And in the world to come, they will have eternal life. 31 But many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first.
This man wants to know what he has to do to receive eternal life.
He is a man who apparently has everything he could need – he is rich, and he is obeying all the commandments – at least he thinks he is. Just one thing then, Jesus says – sell all your things and give all you have to the poor.
I don’t think this is a general principle, that we all have to give away everything we have; but for this man, it was the one thing that was stopping him, the thing he needed to put down if he was going to get what he wanted from life, to get to the place he wanted to. To get as near to God as he clearly wanted to be.
So the challenge for us – is there something in my life that is holding me back? From God? From life in all it’s fullness? Is there something I need to put down, that I can make it to where I need to be? Are we bringing to God our all, or are we distracted somewhere else?
I was struck by a recent comment on this passage on Scripture Union’s excellent WordLive resource, suggesting that a camel going through the eye of a needle was such a preposterous suggestion, that it was just Jesus was just having a good laugh – getting into the kingdom is not something we, rich or poor, can do. Whoever we are, it’s about God acting and receiving us. We can do our bit, make sure nothing is getting in the way – the rest is God’s work
I too want to have eternal life,
I want to be as close to you as I can possibly be.
Yet there are things in my life
that I let get in the way,
things that I hug close to me
so there is no room for you,
things I carry
that stop me going where I need to go.
I lay them down before you,
and ask you to take me
and lead me
in the places you have ready for me