Unpacking our Luggage
Unpacking our Luggage
Words of Faith 11-26-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.
 Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, 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."
 Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?"
 Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."
 Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!"
 "I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God  will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life."
The rich young ruler had been pretty good at religion. He had kept the most obvious religious laws. He had not hurt anyone, stolen, or committed adultery. He was well thought of and admired. But there was something he had missed. He had allowed his riches to come between him and God. The only solution Jesus saw was for him to radically remove these idols from his life by selling everything and giving to the poor.
Matthew and Mark tell us that the man went away sad because he had great wealth. Luke adds that the man was still there when Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, 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."
Jesus hit it right on the money. It is difficult to be rich. Why? We become so self-sufficient. We begin to think we have produced the blessing we enjoy. We begin to think that we do not need God. It becomes difficult to trust God completely like a child when we trust our things.
Jesus painted a vivid image. 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. Jesus may have been talking about a very low entrance into a walled city called the "eye of the needle" that was very difficult for a camel to enter. A camel had to awkwardly duck down and crawl on its knees to get through such an opening after the city gate were closed at dark. Only an extremely well trained animal could perform such a feat and only after unpacking its entire load of merchandise and luggage!
What an image. Jesus had asked the rich young ruler to unpack all of the load of his "life luggage,” get on his knees and trust God alone. But he could not do it. He loved his things too much.
It is also possible that Jesus meant a literal needle here. The next verse speaks of this being not just difficult, but impossible. Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." Here is the bottom line. What man can never do for himself, God offers to do for us in Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace and this is not of ourselves (Eph. 2:8-9). Unless we are born again we cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven anyway. Unless God saves us we are trying in futility.
We might ask: How hard do you have to try in order to get a camel through the eye of a needle? How long will it take? What technology must you develop? It cannot be done. But what is impossible with men is possible with God.
Suppose for a moment that a group of us gathered at the beach in Florida and decided to swim to England. Wouldn't that be a great church outing? We would all get in the water and try our best. Some would just get a little ways off shore before they would drown. Others, stronger swimmers, would get a mile or more off shore before they would go under. Still others would get several miles. There might even be a few trained athletes that might get 30 miles. But the distance to England from the shore of Florida is 4000 miles.
In the end, it really does not matter if you drown in the surf or if you drown 30 miles off shore. If you attempt to swim to England, you will drown. It is impossible. You will drown unless you get saved by the Coast Guard or some kind fisherman.
Here is the point. If we are trying to swim to heaven in our good works we will drown. Absolutely. Positively. The only hope is to get into the boat with the fisherman and let him take you.
Why is it so hard for the wealthy to be saved? It is just harder for the wealthy to realize that they need to get into the boat with the fisherman. We rich folks keep insisting we will not drown because we are nice, wealthy, and self-sufficient.
Of course Peter was quick to weigh in on this. Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!" He was quick to point out that these Disciples did not have anything left to unpack. Jesus responded with a splendid reassurance.
"I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." Whatever we give up is minuscule in comparison to what the Lord will return to us. And when we trust in God alone, He will certainly take care of us.
Here is the big question: Are you still trying to swim to England? Are you still attempting, in your good works, to obey the law and through your kindness reach the Kingdom of God? There is only one way to find the Kingdom. We must transfer trust from self to God in response to what He has already done for us. We transfer trust from our own good works to the wealth of God.
Father God, I realize the futility of trying swim across an ocean. I am putting my trust wholly in You for my salvation, safety and day to day provision. Help me to unpack the things that I don't need for the journey. Give me grace to enter humbly into Your presence. In Jesus' name.