Riches and the Four Gospels #2

Saturday, August 2, 2014

“And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24,25 KJV).

Understandably, “health-and-wealth” preachers and teachers never quote Jesus’ words in today’s Scripture!

The context of today’s Scripture (Luke 18:18-30; cf. Matthew 19:16-30) is a “certain ruler” asked Jesus Christ, “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (verse 18). “[19] And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. [Jesus was asking him, “Are you calling Me ‘God?’” Modern versions water down this verse for obvious reasons.] [20] Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. [21] And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up” (Luke 18:19-21). (Note how law-keeping is related to soul salvation in Israel’s program, just as James 2:17-26 says.)

We proceed to read today’s Scripture within its immediate context: “[22] Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. [23] And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. [24] And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! [25] For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Our Lord Jesus commanded this wealthy ruler to sell all of his possessions and give (alms) to the poor. Why? And why did Jesus speak so negatively of being wealthy, warning His audience not to be rich (and instructing them to sell their possessions, too)?

The answers may surprise you….