Do not let wealth become a stumbling block to the kingdom
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.”
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” – St. Mark 10:23-31
As we negotiate our way through life, let us be reminded that it is not our worldly possessions that get us to heaven. It is God’s amazing grace which came to us through the victory of a cruel and lonely cross outside the city of Jerusalem. There Jesus bled and died for our sins. His death and resurrection is our victory.
The above text is a continuation of last week’s text dealing with the rich young man who wanted to know what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus told the young man who thought he was perfect to go and sell all that he had and give it to the poor. This confused the disciples because they thought the rich were more apt to go to heaven. Then Jesus said that it was so difficult for the rich to go to heaven.
Jesus was showing the young man that possessions can easily stand in the way of a relationship with God. When it comes to Jesus we have only one choice, to be loyal to him.
He tells us that we cannot serve two masters, God and man. In submitting to Christ, we have a change of life. Saint Paul tells us in Galatians 2:2 “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.”
In the words of the hymn, Rock of Ages, we are reminded of our deficiency: “Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to Thy cross I cling. Naked come to thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace: Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.”
Jesus’ teaching reminds us all that we have nothing of worth in our hands when we come to him. Our worldly possessions cannot buy salvation or the grace of God. The gift of God is beyond the reach of our earthly possessions.
What we receive from God comes to us at a great and precious price. Our Lord and Savior gave us the gift of salvation through the shedding of his precious blood. All of our possessions here on earth, in the eyes of God, are useless. They cannot purchase salvation.
The disciples were bewildered at Jesus’ response to the young man. They reasoned, if the rich would find it difficult, then they figured that they did not stand a chance of getting to heaven. If it were difficult for the rich to get to heaven, then, they who were poor were without hope of getting to heaven. “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus dispelled this perception that the rich are better equipped to get to heaven. It is not our wealth or our perfection that causes us to earn God’s grace. It is not our family, social or political connections that gives us the kingdom. We don’t bring anything to the table. It is God’s grace working in us that brings the kingdom to us.
Because of our faith and obedience to the will of God, we come to everlasting life. Jesus was not condemning the rich. He was saying that we should not let our wealth become a stumbling block to the kingdom of God. Wealth should be used for good while we live.
In response to the question, “Who then can be saved?” It not what we have done that saves us. No! It’s what God has done for us in Christ that saves us. Yes, it’s God’s amazing grace. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas, or telephone: 323-4107; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.