Christian Basic Training

Are We Rich?

By Pastor Russ Pickett

Words of Jesus Christ are in "red"
Greek words are in "purple"
Text in "dark blue" are hightlighted points

Break Line

Matthew 19:23-26  [23] Then said Jesus unto his disciples,  Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.  [24] And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.  [25] When his disciples heard it, they were exceeedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?  [26] But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible;  but with God all things are possible.
( See this same story recorded in Luke 18:18-27 & Mark 10:17-27 )

     When most of us first read the above verse our immediate response is, "I'm really glad I'm not rich"!  However, by whose standard do you consider yourself not rich  -  Man's standard  -  or God's standard?

     Here in the United States we seem to have set our own standard of what a rich man is or is not.  That current standard seems to be this ... if a man or his family are millionaires ... then they are is rich!  Just look at two of the most popular game shows on televison ... "Who Want's To Be A Millionaire" and "Deal Or No Deal" !  The contestants on both shows are competing to be "Millionaires".  So I must assume that in the good ole USA the standard to be considered a rich man is to be a millionaire.  I think most of you would agree.

     But is that how God determines who is or who is not rich?  Isn't it important, after reading the above verse, for us to know what is God's standard.  If you believe that God's standard is the same as our standard ... then please contact me because I have some very cheap ocean front property in Oklahoma that is for sale!

     Note something very important in verse 25 above.  It states that the disciples were "exceedingly amazed" at Jesus' statement and asked Him the question, "Who then can be saved?"  We would immediately think "Why did they ask this question?"  Well their basic reason was that they now wondered whether or not they would or could be saved.

     A little lesson on the twelve disciples of Jesus is needed here.  Sometimes, as Christians, we look at what the disciples did, said, and ask and wonder why they would do and ask the things that they did.  However when we read scripture we must try to put ourselves in their place at that time in history.  It is easy for us to wonder about these We must remember that we are looking at their story with alot more information

It has always been taught that the twelve gave up everything to follow Jesus.  This, of course, is true.  However at this point in their lives they had not done so.  They were following Jesus because they recognized Him as a great teacher or prophet.   It wasn't until after the crucifiction and resurrection First off, based on the Jewish belief of the day those that were successful in life were successful because they had God's blessing and/or were in His favor.  It has always been taught that the twelve gave up everything to follow Jesus.

They were aware that for the most part they also were rich by that day's standard.  Matthew was a tax collector ... he was rich!  Peter, James, and Andrew were all successful fishermen ... They were rich!  As we look at all the apostles of Jesus Christ we can see that they were more than likely successful men.  They were, at least, by today's standard ... middle class.  To them the poor were those begging alms and unlike themselves, those that had little possessions.  So they were all "exceedingly amazed" by Jesus' statement!

     Now I can't talk for God, however I believe that when God determines who is or is not rich He looks at the entire world's population to make his determination.  And why wouldn't He since everyone on this planet are His children.  "God does not look to see whether or not a person is a millionaire but instead looks at each of us based on what we have compared to the rest of the world".

     Now when we compare ourselves to the rest of the world, "We Are Rich"!  I know that each person who is reading this article is rich.  How do I know that?  Let's look at the world standard:

  • If you live in a warm home ... compared to the rest of the world ... you are rich!
  • If you have indoor plumbing ... compared to the rest of the world ... you are rich!
  • If you have electricity ... compared to the rest of the world ... you are rich!
  • If you have a car ... compared to the rest of the world ... you are rich!
  • If you have plenty to eat every day ... compared to the rest of the world ... you are rich!
  • If you have a television ... compared to the rest of the world ... you are rich!

     If you have any of the above ... compared to the rest of the world ... you are rich!  And the number one reason that I know you are rich is ... To read this article you have to be in a place that is warm, that has electricity, and either you have a computer of your own or access to one.  Compared to the rest of the world ... that would definitely make you rich.

     Let's look at the above verses a little more since Jesus says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."  If we are considered "rich" by the world's standard then how does this verse apply to each of us?

First off Jesus had just finished talking with a rich young man:

Matthew 19:16-22  [16] And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  [17] And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good?  there is none good but one, that is, God:  but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.  [18] He saith unto him, Which?  Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, [19] Honour thy father and thy mother:  and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  [20] The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up:  what lack I yet?  [21] Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:  and come and follow me.  [22] But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful:  for he had great possessions.

     Now this young man was what we today would call a "good guy"!  He didn't murder anyone, he didn't commit adultery, he didn't steal, he didn't bear false witness against anyone, he honoured his parents, and he loved his neighbor as much as he did himself.  He was the kind of man that we would be more than happy to have as a neighbor.

     But like so many today ... he lacked one important thing even though he was a "good guy":  What was important to him was what he possesed!  His heart was harden toward the spiritual side of life.  He was more interested in his possessions and on how he could get even more!  And we know this because in verse 22 we see his response to what Jesus told him to do:  "But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful:  for he had great possessions."

Lets take a closer look at Jesus' statement in Matthew 19, verse 24:

Matthew 19:24  And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

     There are many stories about what Jesus meant here.  The one false story that has really seemed to take hold is that there was some kind of gate in the wall of Jerusalem that was small and called the "eye of the needle".  As the story goes after hours merchants could use this gate since the main gate was closed for the night and for a camel to get through this gate the merchants would have to unload them and then the camel would have to crawl throught the gate since it was so low.  Even though this story sounds good, there is no truth to this story and there was never such a gate.

     Then what was Jesus saying here?  I can clear that up easily ... Jesus meant exactly what he said, a camel cannot go through the eye of a needle.  He was using what is refered to as a hyperbole.  A hyperbole is a deliberate and obvious exaggeration.  Jesus had used other hyperboles in his ministry such as in Matthew 7:

Matthew 7:3-5  [3] And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  [4] Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold , a beam is in thine own eye?  [5] Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

     When is the last time you saw someone with a beam in their eye?  We know that Jesus was talking here about not judging our brothers and sister in Christ.  God is their judge as He is ours.

What our Lord was relaying here in Matthew 19 about the rich man was simply this:

" You Cannot Buy Your Way Into Heaven! "

AND

" Being A Good Guy Or Gal Will Also Not Get You Into Heaven! "

     He was like "Ole So Many" in this great country of ours today who believe that being a good person entitles you somehow into getting into heaven.

Luke 12:48  .... For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: .....

May God Bless You

     

If you have not already done so, please consider trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

For more information on Salvation Click Here to view "How can I get to Heaven?"




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Last modified: Saturday, January 15, 2011