17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ”20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again,“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
When we read the Bible we often do not read the entire context or only see what we would like to see. Jesus’ argument is subtle and involves ellipsis but He is not using an exaggeration but an argument from greater to lesser. First He makes an exclamation about how hard it is hard for a rich man to enter heaven. And next- and this is very important- He says in Mark 10:24 “How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God.” In this second instance He omits any mention of the rich and has proceeded to make a general statement about its difficulty to enter. It is true that in Mk 10:25 He resumes His diatribe against the rich, but this point is to reinforce the general statement of Mk 10:24. In other words, Jesus is arguing that if it is hard for a rich man to enter heaven- the ones whom everyone would have assumed would be first in line- then how much more for those who are not rich.
This actually does not imply that the rich are closer to heaven than the poor. Both are equally impossible. Impossibility is an absolute: a thing cannot be more impossible than another anymore than it can be more unique than another. Nevertheless, from the audience’s perspective Jesus is presenting something of a conundrum- an argument from greater to lesser. The greater expectation: rich entering heaven. The lesser expectation: anyone else entering. The desired reaction: “If it is impossible for the rich man to enter, surely it must be impossible for me as well.” This is exactly what the disciples say- “Then who can be saved?” Mark records that they were absolutely baffled.God doesn't have a price tag on heaven, but it isn't without cost either. Click To Tweet
This being the case, Jesus admits freely that it is impossible (vs.27) but to our relief says that the impossible is possible with God. God gives us all things to richly enjoy says Paul (1 Tim 6:17) and it is confirmed here that God enriches us and yet we will still have persecutions. This means that we may at one time be totally at want and yet entirely enriched (cf. Phil 4:12). No one said the Bible was not a book of paradoxes.
As it applies to our life, we can rest assured that God does not have a price tag on heaven, but it isn’t without a cost either. It cost primarily His Son, but it will cost us the best alternative as well. We must surrender a material and consumerist life and “follow Him.” If we are to live for Christ we must find a way to surrender all things to Him while still making use of those things (cf. 1 Cor. 7:29-31). Our soul is not to entrust itself to these things, but as we have entrusted it to God so all our possessions must follow.