Matthew 19:23-26 NIV 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
If you are like me, you read this story about the rich young man many times, picturing the tiny eye of a sewing needle you had seen around the house. It made sense at the time, because a camel wouldn’t be able to get through that at all. The more familiar I became with the story, however, the more the sewing needle picture didn’t work for me, since Jesus didn’t say it was an impossibility. Then came the day when someone taught that this eye of the needle was actually an opening, not the full-sized gate, in the wall around a city. For a camel to go through this eye, the load it carried had to be removed. I understood, but still had to use my imagination. Then came Israel . . .
As I toured Nazareth Village – a re-creation of what the life and times of Jesus would have been as he lived in Nazareth – I was excited to go through an actual eye of the needle. Now it is not just something I imagined, but is tangible. Now it is real for me and can be for anyone else who sees this picture! Combining my camel ride (getting a hands-on experience of size) with stepping through this opening, I understand more vividly what Jesus was saying. An empty camel would have a hard time getting through, as would a wealthy person who insisted on holding tightly to his belongings.
To avoid hitting my head when going through the eye, I had to bend over. At the same time, to avoid tripping and falling, I had to lift my feet higher over the raised opening. What a perfect picture Jesus painted for us. It’s not impossible to enter the kingdom of heaven, but the only possible way is God’s – through Jesus Christ and His blood. Now I can see more clearly what I couldn’t so many years ago, as I humbled myself to receive Him, leaving all my worldly works and goods behind. Jesus had carried me through to our Father, where there are riches beyond compare!
Praise God! That we might know Christ and make Him known – through the eye of the needle.