Matthew 19:23-30

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”

 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. Matthew 19:23-30

Let’s ask the question directly – does Jesus have something against rich people?

In today’s text Jesus says “it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven…” That sounds harsh in the ears of those of us who never worry about having enough money to buy groceries. It even sounded harsh to Jesus’ own disciples. They were “greatly astounded” to hear it. Yes, I have heard this comment explained away with a reference to the “needle gate” into the old city of Jerusalem. Hogwash. This comment sounds harsh in our ears – like Jesus telling the rich young man to give everything away and then come follow him – because it is supposed to sound harsh!

It isn’t that Jesus has something against rich people – it IS about Jesus having his finger on the pulse of how we think about life, about what we value and admire, about our wishes and dreams, IF we choose to leave God out of the equation.

Many people have pointed out what is commonly called Jesus’ preferential option for the poor. That is clearly central to Jesus’ way of being in the world. He notices and addresses what the world dismisses and discounts. Jesus’ value system is different than the cultural norms of those who equate financial security with success and God’s favor. Jesus would agree that is it the love of money, not money itself, that is the root of all evil. But that doesn’t mean that Jesus has a thing against rich people.

Yes, Jesus shocked his disciples with his comment that it will be hard for a rich person to live in the kingdom of heaven (a healthy relationship with God that begins now and continues into life after death) but he never said that such a relationship would be easy for a poor person.

At the end of the day, it isn’t about what we have but about what we do with what we have. Healthy stewardship of our lives isn’t about giving 10% of our income to charity because we are rich and we can, it is about devoting 100% of our lives to doing the next right thing in every area of our lives. God doesn’t create equality, God creates diversity. Yet God does call us to justice and fairness. Doing the best we can for the common good, mindful of those on the edges and those left behind, is the essence of Christian discipleship in all areas of our lives.

This isn’t easy but it is possible. As long as we don’t leave God out of the equation of our lives. With God, all things are possible.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, as we begin a new year, help us begin from the solid foundation of finding our lives in you. You are our Lord, our standard, our measure. You light the path to a life worth living, a life of meaning and purpose, a life that makes the world a better place. Guide us through this new year, that we don’t get lost following dead ends and empty idols. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Matthew 19:23-30”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks, Pastor Kerry for your reminders. So easy to brush off Jesus’ teachings if not wary of listening to Him daily.

  2. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Nice to have you back!

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