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The Eye Of A Needle

Matthew 19:16-26
16 Now behold, one came and said to Him,
“Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good?
No one is good but One, that is, God.
But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’
‘You shall not commit adultery,’
‘You shall not steal,’
‘You shall not bear false witness,’
19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and,
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 The young man said to Him,
All these things I have kept from my youth.
What do I still lack?

21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect,
go, sell what you have and give to the poor,

and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying,
he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples,
“Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say to 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 His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying,
“Who then can be saved?”
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them,
With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
What did Jesus mean when He shared about a camel going through the eye of a needle?
Is it the physical eye of a sewing needle? Or is it something else?

In ancient times, some city gates were constructed with a small door installed upon a larger door. The larger door of this city gate would be opened in the day but kept closed at night. The little door would be opened during the night. This small door was so designed for security reasons so that the enemies would not ride easily into the city on their camels or horses in the night to attack the people living inside.


The little door of the gate was called the eye of a needle. It was used for people to enter the city after the main door was closed at night.
A man had to first unload his camel of all that it was carrying, and then carefully led his camel through this small door. It was a slow and difficult task. However, it was not an impossible thing to do. Hard to enter but not impossible. A stubborn and proud camel would not enter in. But if it obeyed its master and stooped down humbly after letting go of all its burdens, it might be able to enter the small door eventually.
To refute all claims that these types of gates do not exist in Israel, below is an old black and white photo of such a gate in Nazareth. These small doors are often not named simply because it is only customarily to name the larger gates and not their small doors. However there were people who nicknamed or called the small doors as needle gates.

The camel is one of the largest animals in Israel. It is often loaded with all kinds of material goods worth lots of money.
Jesus made this reference to the eye of a needle in His response to a rich young ruler who had asked Him what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied that he should keep the commandments. And the young man was delighted to tell Jesus that he had done so.
Jesus then gave him a difficult and high calling, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow Me.” The young man became sad as he was unwilling to do what Jesus had told him to do. He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Jesus did not despise or dislike the young ruler for being wealthy having great possessions and goods. But Jesus was testing his heart like God tested Abraham’s heart whether he would sacrifice Isaac or not. Was the rich man willing to unload his material goods? Was he able to humble himself, repent and be saved?
To enter the kingdom of heaven, this rich young ruler needed to first disentangle himself from his worldly affairs and wealth just like a camel needed to unload all the material goods off its back in order to get through the eye of a needle. Unfortunately, the young man chose not to. He was unwilling to unload his worldly possessions as he had so much. He was unable to humble himself, bow down to God and enter the narrow gate of heaven.
Matthew 7:13-14
Enter by the narrow gate;
for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction,
and there are many who go in by it.
Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life,
and there are few who find it.
Jesus had given the rich young man an open door to enter the kingdom of heaven. But the rich man simply missed out the best divine exchange of all times. Trading earth for heaven!
Believing that he was rich, the young man was in fact very poor in the sight of God. Was he getting hold of his money or was his money getting hold of him? So full of himself, he was puffed up with youthful pride and arrogance. He was unable to decrease so that Christ would increase in his life! His past and present accomplishments deterred him from pressing on to his future and winning the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Let’s take a look at another equally proud and arrogant person named Saul of Tarsus. He was later named Paul, an apostle and a servant of God. Thus, all things are possible with God. Even the young, rich and proud are able to enter the kingdom of God only if they are willing to let go of their earthly burdens, humble themselves and bow down to God!
Here is the personal testimony of Paul:
Philippians 3
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.
For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit,
rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh.
If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:
5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,
a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;
6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church;
concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law,
but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,
and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected;
but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;
but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind;
and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained,
let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
17 Brethren, join in following my example,
and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often,
and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly,
and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.
20 For our citizenship is in heaven,
from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body,
according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Written on 27 May 2013