Truth Taught- Riches are more of a hindrance than a help
for one who desires the Kingdom of God.
Last time, we saw Jesus and the rich man’s interaction. We saw the Rich Man ask Jesus what good deed could he do to earn eternal life. We also remember our Lord’s response when He replied, why do you ask Me of all people about what is good? There is only One who is good, namely God. We learned of the impossibility of someone other than God doing a good deed. To do a good deed must originate from a good Person and only God is good. Then in response to the question, Jesus told this Rich Man that he should trade gods. He should get rid of his false god and embrace the true God and follow Jesus. Then we also remember that the Rich Man went away sorrowful because he had great wealth.
He was sorrowful because he was rich and Jesus teaches us that…
Riches are more of a hindrance than a help for one who desires the Kingdom of God.
Today’s, text is Jesus’ further teaching on this matter. The Rich Man becomes a general model for Jesus to explain the problem to His followers. This man’s experience is made a universal declaration that shows the danger of riches.
This man is also an example to us of Jesus’ parable of the soils…
Matthew 13:22 (ESV)
22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
How do riches deceive us? Riches promise us what only God can give. Riches say, Trust me I can give you peace, happiness, security and the more of me you have the happier you will be.
God tells us Trust Me I can give you peace, happiness, security and the more of Me you have the happier you will be.
The Rich Man trusted in his wealth and his riches had eternally deceived him.
Father, this is Your Word for us today. Help us understand it. By Your Holy Spirit apply it to our hearts so we can glorify Your Son, Jesus Christ…AMEN.
Matthew 19:23–30 (ESV)
23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
1. Jesus’ Assessment of the Rich
23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Jesus’ assessment of the rich is that with riches also comes a great danger. The human heart is fallen and prone to material distractions. We are all in danger of being deceived by riches. As we have said before, riches in themselves are not sinful but it is an extreme danger to think they cannot control you and that you will never worship them.
What makes salvation for the rich so difficult is the power struggle between rival Gods. Which will the rich worship? Not only the rich but we too must guard against this danger of seeking to worship two Gods. Jesus tells us, we can’t do it, it is an impossibility to have two.
Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Our Lord is so adamant about this that He repeats it again only this time with a shock factor. Do you want to know how hard it is for the Rich Man to be saved?
it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.
The salvation of the rich has been declared to be very hard and now Jesus takes things a step forward by ultimately declaring the impossibility of the rich gaining the Kingdom of God.
There is a faulty interpretation that has been fairly popular for about a century. They say that in Jerusalem there is a gate where camels have to kneel down and almost crawl through. They say, that it is with great difficulty a camel can enter through this gate. The issue is that there has never been proof of such a gate called the eye of the needle. That interpretation goes against the context of this passage. Salvation by works for anyone is impossible. No one can enter the Kingdom of God through a good deed because as Jesus has already told us, no one is good except God.
Romans 3:10–12 (ESV)
10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
Jesus’ point is a camel cannot go through the eye of a needle. There is a rabbinic proverb that speaks of and elephant going through the eye of a needle used for anything completely impossible.
We also know that Jesus is speaking this way to press His point. To make a vivid powerful point. The proverb has its intended effect…
2. God’s Power to Save
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Now, the disciple’s traditional way of thinking is being shaken again. Remember, they were all about this Rich Man. They were amazed that he wanted to be part of God’s Kingdom and were gushing at the chance. Now, Jesus is turning this upside down again. He is declaring that their notion that this Rich Man is somehow great and that he is an example to be followed is greatly flawed.
If this great Rich Man cannot be saved then who can?
With man this is impossible… No one can receive eternal life based on human worthiness. The rich are excluded as is everyone else. The logic of Jesus’ statement flows from His previous teaching that good deeds can only come from someone who is good and only God is good therefore good deeds are impossible for this rich man, for you disciples and for anyone else… no one does good not even one.
Now, before we move forward this also teaches something else about God. Because God is good that means everything, He does is good. Every act of God is infinitely good all the time. Just as it is impossible for a person to do a good deed because they are not good but sinful so to it is impossible for God to do something that is not good. To say God is good is to also affirm everything about God and all His acts are also very good.
In John Newton’s, A Monument of Praise for God’s Goodness, he writes about his sister’s hardships.
In May, 1782, my sister Cuningham was at Edinburgh, chiefly on the account of her eldest daughter, then in the fourteenth year of her age, who was very ill of a consumption. She had already buried an only son, at the age of twelve; and, while all a mother’s care and feelings were engaged by the rapid decline of a second amiable child, she was unexpectedly and suddenly bereaved of an affectionate and excellent husband. Her trials were great, but the Lord had prepared her for them. She was a believer. Her faith was strong; her graces active; her conduct exemplary. She walked with God, and he supported her. And, though she was a tender and sympathizing friend, she had a happy firmness of temper; so that her character as a Christian, and the propriety of her behaviour in every branch of relative life, appeared with peculiar advantage in the season of affliction. She returned to Anstruther a widow, with her sick child, who languished till October, and then died.
Here is her reply to John Newton who issued an invitation for her to come and live with him and his wife…
What might have been the issue of my plan, could it have taken place, I know not; but I can now praise and adore him for the gracious issue of his. I praise his name, that I can cheerfully comply with his word, which says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I not only can bow (as it becomes a creature and a sinner to do) to his sovereignty; but I admire his wisdom and goodness, and can say from my heart, “He has done all things well.”
If we are to experience good things such as the ultimate good thing, eternal life, it must come from the Good God. Because He alone is good then salvation which is God’s ultimate good toward us must come from Him and it cannot come from man.
So, not only is it impossible for the rich to gain eternal life through good works it is impossible for anyone to gain eternal life through good works simply because no one is good but God.
Because salvation is from God and He alone does what is humanly impossible, He then receives all the glory for every person who is saved, including many rich people. Status, wealth, fame or anything else does not matter when salvation is concerned. God by His free choice saves those whom He chooses to save and those He chose before the foundation of the world.
If one person repents and follows Christ it is because God chose them. If salvation was up to man, not one person would be or could be saved. Praise God that multitudes have come to Christ because with man this is impossible but with God all things, even the impossible is possible.
3. Jesus’ Promise to His Followers
” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
Peter, the spokesman of the twelve speaks up and tells Jesus what everyone is thinking. I remember in Seminary that you rarely had to ask a question because if you waited a little while someone else would ask your stupid question for you. This is Peter’s role. Jesus, You told the Rich Man to give away all his stuff and he refused but we have left everything to follow You. What about us? What will we get? The Rich Man was promised treasure in heaven, what will we get?
Jesus answers very patiently. Notice, when the great rewards for following Jesus take place…
Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne
The first thing we must see is that there are great rewards that will come to us for following Jesus but they will not be ours until the end of time. When Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom then these things will be ours.
Sorry, Joel Olsteen, Sorry Joyce Myers, Sorry Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Reverend Ike, and Kenneth Hagin. You are very wrong. Our health and wealth is not now. Even if we give millions to your ministries, we will not experience health and wealth in this world. It’s not because something is wrong with us, such as some deficiency in our faith, no, you’re the ones wrong.
Our Lord is clear these wonderful things come to all who follow Him… later.
He tells the twelve that they will be given authority and in fact, they will judge the twelve Tribes of Israel. Literally, the Greek text uses a word that means they will rule over Israel in the new age.
Jesus tells us that all who are loyal to Him over all things will receive a great reward. The reward will be much greater than anything or anyone we leave behind to follow Jesus. Here, will receive a hundredfold, does not mean exactly 100 times what was given up. It means the reward will far exceed anything left behind in order to follow Jesus.
Jesus also tells us that there is something else that is given to the believer who follows Jesus, namely, and will inherit eternal life.
We will be with Christ forever. He will be our King as He sits on His throne. We will worship and serve Him for all eternity.
Our reward is coming to us. It is promised. But it is not yet but when Christ comes.
4. Jesus’ Caution
30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
So, the Rich Man on earth was first and the disciples and other followers, last. The Rich and Famous in our day right here and now are first. They seem to have all the stuff and the fame. However, in the age to come things are reversed. All who give up things to follow Jesus who are among the last here and now, will be first in the age to come. Those who have everything now but, like the Rich Man trust in those things will not inherit eternal life but will be destined to eternal death in hell… Riches are more of a hindrance than a help
for one who desires the Kingdom of God.
Are you among those who are following Christ? What have you given up to obey His call to be His disciple?
Are you experiencing a current power struggle between your loyalties? Which King are you serving?
What can you do to break free of the grip money has on you? Take Jesus’ advice. Give it away. Generosity, helping others, giving to your church are all ways we can be sure money is not our god.
You see, no one can give their god away.
Realize money is not an end but a means and it all belongs to God.
For a believer money is not an end but a means to a greater end.
If acquiring money and storing it away is the end, you will never have enough and the quest for more will consume you. If following Jesus is your life then you can never have enough of Him and He will consume you.
If you find yourself struggling between loyalties be a giver and watch how God frees you from the chains of riches.
The Gospel of Matthew by R T France