Matthew 19:23-24


"Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God'" (Matthew 19:23-24).


This passage comes immediately after Jesus tells a young man who is seeking to become a follower that, in addition to obeying the Commandments, he should give his possessions to the poor. The young man went away "sorrowful, for he had great possessions" (verse 22).

In Jesus' reaction to the man's departure, many hear a rather harsh judgment. I hear Jesus fully aware of how challenging his response was, and full of sympathy for the young man. Again and again, throughout his ministry Jesus cautions his listeners and followers that his is not an easy path. It requires a degree of surrender to the spiritual Self that becomes more difficult the more earthly wealth one possesses. I don't hear Jesus saying that rich men are greedy and so unable to enter the kingdom. I hear him recognizing that the more entrenched one is in the status quo, the more difficult it is to release it, surrender its products, and embrace the new consciousness that, for Jesus, is the new kingdom of heaven. He readily agrees with his disciples that it's a tall order. It's "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle." (Some believe the reference is to the smallest gate into Jerusalem, known as "the eye of the needle," because only small things could pass through; I think it's also entirely possible that Jesus is showing his mastery of hyperbole.)


Rev. Ed