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The Camel and the Eye of a Needle

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24 KJV)

Jesus, yet again, mesmerized His audience when He said, “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”. Shocked, the disciples asked Jesus to lessen their grief by explaining what He meant. Jesus then clarified the chief lesson He wanted to teach them in this parable:

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible“. (Matthew 19:26 KJV)

So, Jesus’ lesson was simple: just as it is impossible for a camel, the largest land animal in Palestine, to go through the eye of a needle, the smallest opening found in the home, so rich people can’t enter the kingdom of God through their riches. In essence, Jesus said there is nothing any human being has or can do to earn salvation—not physical riches (wealth) or even good religious works. Salvation, therefore, could only come by God’s grace. Besides, Jesus in no way implies in this passage that rich people cannot be saved or that wealth is evil.

However, as a young believer, I was taught that the eye of the needle was a narrow gate in Jerusalem through which camels had to enter the city when the main gate was closed. At that time, I was thrilled with this fascinating insight. In fact, it was a “revelation” to me then; unfortunately, that teaching was erroneous. The ESV Bible notes (which I use regularly) refute this claim stating, “There is no evidence for the popular interpretation that there was a gate in Jerusalem called ’the eye of the needle,’ which camels had to stoop to their knees to enter.”

This misguided interpretation that claims the camels could go through the eye of the needle misrepresents Jesus’ message. According to this view, the camels do indeed go through the gate (the eye of the needle), though with incredible difficulty. But Jesus did not say it was difficult for the rich (human efforts) to be saved—He meant it was impossible. It just could not occur.

in Ephesians 2:8, Paul articulated this foundational truth of salvation only by God’s grace:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)

Just as salvation is absolutely dependent on God, the Christian life also depends on His help. I can never overemphasize that we all run the risk of slowly depending on ourselves as we become more mature in Christianity. As we learn the routines of the daily Christian life, especially the ones that make us feel super spiritual, such as praying, fasting, meditating, Bible study, tithing, ministry, Church attendance, holy living, speaking in tongues,  etc., we must be careful not to shift our truth from the Lord to the arm of the flesh.

Christianity is not merely difficult by human efforts; it is impossible. It took God to save us, and it will take God to help us through the daily Christian life.

Meditate

What is the symbolic meaning of the phrase “eye of the needle” as used above?

Apply the Word

Remember, it is not by might nor by power but by His Spirit. From start to finish, Christianity is God’s grace we receive by believing in Him. Those who enjoy Father God the most are those who are childlike the most. Rest in the Father.

Pray

Ask the Father to make you

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