And Jesus looked round about, and said to his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!…
Salvation! What so desirable and necessary? Why so difficult to obtain.
I. YOU KNOW WHAT SALVATION IS. Deliverance from condemnation, and placing us, pure and happy, in God's kingdom. We must take care that we do not mistake as to where the difficulty lies. It is not in God, not in Christ; milling and able "to save to the uttermost."
1. There is the difficulty arising out of the pride of our hearts — the difficulty of falling in with God's way of saving us. Salvation of grace troubles us.
2. There is the difficulty of complying with God's terms of salvation. We trace this to unbelief. The tidings of the gospel seem too good to be credited.
3. The difficulty of our seeking, or even accepting, such a salvation as God offers. It is a deliverance from the love and power of sin. We are by nature unholy, salvation crucifies all that nature delights in; hence difficulty.
II. WHAT THE DISCIPLES FELT AT THE PROSPECT OF THESE DIFFICULTIES.
1. Wonder. "They were astonished out of measure." There was a time when we considered salvation easy; God was regarded as merciful. No sooner did the Holy Spirit make us alive to our spiritual welfare, than wonder came as described in the text. They wondered at the patience of God, at His amazing grace, and the mountain of difficulties which lies between them and heaven.
2. The other feeling we discover in these men is despair — "Who then can be saved?" We must learn to look beyond our spiritual difficulties, if ever we would be carried over them.
III. OUR LORD'S JUDGMENT CONCERNING THIS MATTER. "You are right," He says, "up to a certain point; beyond that you are altogether wrong."
1. They were partially right. It is difficult for a man to overcome the difficulties between him and heaven. He is weak as well as sinful; must despair of his own power to attain salvation. Self-sufficiency, like self-righteousness, insurmountable obstacle in our journey heavenwards.
2. But these disciples were also wrong. He tells them that salvation was never intended to be man's work; but God's. What omnipotence undertakes can be carried through.
3. How compassionately He says this — "You have felt My power, difficulties have vanished."Apply:
1. Some of you know nothing at all of the difficulties of salvation.
2. Others of you, like those disciples, have just begun to see the difficulties that lie before you.
3. A few of you have been long accustomed to spiritual difficulties.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!