Tuesday 08 November 2022

Bible Book:

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, 'Then who can be saved?' (v. 25)

Matthew 19:23-26 Tuesday 8 November 2022

Psalm 102:12-28


Today’s passage comes from a section of Matthew’s Gospel recording Jesus’ final journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, teaching and meeting various people on the road. It follows on directly from yesterday's reading, where Jesus encountered a rich young man (19:16-22). The young man came seeking eternal life, but went away “grieving” when Jesus told him that he must “sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor” (19:21-22). Jesus then proceeds to reflect on this encounter and its implications.

In Mathew's Gospel, Jesus has already spoken negatively about wealth and its ability to distract people from how God wishes them to live (6:19-21, 6:24, 13:22, etc). Here, Jesus emphasises his point by making what would become one of the most famous metaphors in the Bible when he says it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God (v. 24). There are many stories about this verse, including claims that it refers to camels passing through a very small gate in the ancient city of Jerusalem. There is no truth in that story,  and it should be read as just another example of Jesus’ vivid picture language, which he used to emphasise his points and make sure they were remembered.

The disciples’ amazement at Jesus’ comment is not because of this powerful imagery but because it challenged traditional beliefs about wealth. It was commonly assumed that riches were a sign of God’s favour and blessing, and the result of righteous behaviour. The contrary also applied. So, good things happen to good people and bad things to bad people! This way of thinking in the Bible is often called ‘Deuteronomistic’, partly because it is neatly summarised in Deuteronomy 30. This simplistic view of the world is challenged in the Bible, though, notably in the book of Job. Jesus, here and elsewhere, also undermines it. 


To Ponder:

  • How should we understand Jesus’ words about the rich in our own day?
  • Are all things truly possible for God?
  • What does it mean for someone 'to be saved'?


God of the rich and poor, for you all things are possible. Help us to move beyond our doubts and fears, to help bring about your vision for peace and justice in the world. Amen.

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