Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is the "Eye of a Needle" a door in a wall?

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

I was once taught that Jesus wasn't referring to a literal needle, but rather to a small door in a wall. A camel could get through the door, but it would have to shed its cargo, get on its knees, and crawl through. (Can camels crawl?) It's a compelling narrative, but it seems to be a hoax. I have found no reputable source showing that such a door existed in Jesus's day, and many sources state that there was no such door.

While there are many interpretations of the scripture, I believe it is hyperbole. Christ sometimes exaggerates to prove a point, such as "And if thy right eye aoffend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee." (Matt. 5:29)

In the case of the camel and the eye of the needle, it's going to be very difficult for rich people to follow Jesus, because we love our stuff/comfort/leisure (most Americans are rich by the standards in Christ's day). This interpretation is supported by the subsequent verses:

"25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 aBut Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are bpossible" (Matt. 19: 25-26)

It is impossible for us to be saved on our own. We sin. In the context of Matt. 19:26, we covet other things more that God. Only through the grace of Christ are we saved. Through repentence we learn to shed our things (and our pride), as necessary, until we are what God wants us to be.

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