Everyone has a favorite teacher. We’ve all learned quite a bit along the way, which means someone taught us, and, inevitably, some were better at teaching than others.
I would describe one of my favorite teachers as “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Many question my teacher, to whom I would wish that they would simply take the time to get to know my teacher…to simply read.
17And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
What can I do to earn my salvation, good teacher Jesus?
18And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
Don’t reduce me to a merely “good teacher.” I am God.
19Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
You know what the commandments say—here’s the checklist.
20And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
Is that everything? Then, I’m good!
21Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
You’re right. You’re missing something (and I really, really hope you see it, because I love you so much).
Jesus is not merely asking for the man to get rid of his material possessions. Jesus is asking the man to release his dependence on material possessions for security—to depend wholly on Jesus.
22And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
This man is not merely demonstrating his unwillingness to part with his great possessions, but making the decision to choose to trust in his possessions rather than Jesus Christ.
Regarding the upcoming verse, there is a relevant article recently posted on Psychology Today (July 14, 2011) by evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber: “Why Atheism Will Replace Religion: New Evidence. With economic security, people abandon religion.” To be frank, I have to hide a smile when there are *new* discoveries that were written in the Bible thousands and hundreds of years ago.
It seems that people turn to religion as a salve for the difficulties and uncertainties of their lives. In social democracies, there is less fear and uncertainty about the future because social welfare programs provide a safety net and better health care means that fewer people can expect to die young. People who are less vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature feel more in control of their lives and less in need of religion. Hence my finding of belief in God being higher in countries with a heavy load of infectious diseases.
. . .
The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms. First, with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people’s daily lives and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached and that do not require slavish conformity to unscientific beliefs.
23And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
How difficult is it for those who are “rich” to enter into the kingdom of God!
24And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
More explicitly. How difficult is it for those who trust in their material possessions to protect them from fear and uncertainty to enter into the kingdom of God!
25It 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.
Barber likens the phenomenon to a market where religion is just one of many products available, and those who are in economically developed countries are less likely to even need the product. Perhaps it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, because the rich man often has a hard time just seeing that there is a camel that must go through the eye of the needle.
26And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
Indeed. Who then can be saved?
27And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
No one can be saved of their own will, their own efforts, their own merit, their own abilities or their own possessions. It is impossible. It is only possible with God. It is only possible through belief in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Only through faith.
But to even get to that we must give up that “one thing you lack.” We must surrender our dependence and “trust in riches.” We must realize our inability and God’s ability. We must face the impossible and declare, “with God all things are possible.”