On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
Eternal Life Made Possible
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.” Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!” (Mark 10:26-28, NIV)
The rich young ruler who posed the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” left Jesus in disappointment. He wasn’t willing to pay the price of divesting himself of all his possessions to follow Jesus.
The Lord commented at the rich young ruler’s departure that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. While various explanations have been offered as to what Jesus meant by this statement, the best way to understand it is to take it literally. It’s totally impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Taking the statement literally best explains why the disciples were amazed and asking among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”
Had the “eye of the needle” been the small gate inset into the larger city gate for access at night, the idea of a camel going through it would not have amazed the disciples. That is something possible since, with a little effort, the camel can get through that smaller opening. Others have said that the word Jesus used was “rope” rather than “camel” since the two words are spelled so similarly in the original language. But it wouldn’t have amazed the disciples that a rope could go through a proper-sized needle.
No, the disciples were dumbfounded by Jesus’ statement. Hearing their conversation, Jesus turned around and reiterated the human impossibility of entering the kingdom of God. That’s the bad news. On our own, we are powerless to grant ourselves the forgiveness of sins or eternal life.
But, the good news is this: With God it is possible! That’s why Jesus came. We couldn’t save ourselves and gain heaven as our eternal home! Only Jesus has the keys to the kingdom of God.
Peter’s response that “we have left everything to follow you” is sobering because it forces us to consider the depth of our own discipleship. What have you left to follow Christ?
Perhaps He has not required you to leave everything, as He did with the rich young ruler, or with His own disciples. But there are still things that you have to lay aside to follow Him. Have you ever been at a crossroads in life when you had to make the decision as to whether you would please yourself or obey Him?
I look back on my own life and review crossroads moments when I made decisions out of obedience against every screaming emotion to choose differently. I may not have left everything in terms of material goods, but I did have to leave everything that would have kept me from following Jesus. If you will obey whatever the Lord asks of you, then He will open the kingdom of God to you — because with Him, it is possible!
There’s a current gospel chorus that says, “He gives and takes away … blessed be the name of the Lord.” We all like the giving better than the taking away. But, in the final analysis, wouldn’t you rather, from eternity’s viewpoint, be identified with Peter than with the rich young ruler?
A prayer of response
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark