It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle… (v. 25).
This passage has always amused me. In the middle of Jesus’ very serious admonition about the perils of wealth and the kingdom of God, he offers this bizarre metaphor about camels. I recall my childhood pastors twisting themselves into a pretzel over its meaning. Perhaps “the needle” refers to a tiny gate that a camel could go through but it would be really, really hard. Maybe it means that a camel would have to be deconstructed and go through a real needle one hair at a time. Or perhaps it was a figure of speech in Jesus’ day.
Or perhaps, my still forming 12-year-old brain told me, it was just a really funny, exaggerated metaphor that Jesus constructed on the fly. He was about to take off on a trip and I imagined him going by Mary and Martha’s house, his good friends, for a bit of robe repair that morning. Martha got out her needle and whipped a seam back together in short order. And on the way there, maybe he saw some really rich guy riding a camel and having trouble getting that animal to go through a gate that was obviously big enough, but camels get cranky. And when that same wealthy guy ran up to him later and asked about eternal life, the camel and a needle metaphor landed like a well-placed horseshoe.
Wealth blinds us. In the middle of this really hard lesson, Jesus lands a funny line about a camel and a needle. And yet…even something that impossible is possible with God.
Just ask Abraham and Sarah.
How often do I place my own limitations on God? When was the last time I made God in my own image and missed the miracles all around me?
God, all things are possible through you. When I don’t believe that, help my unbelief. Amen.