And Jesus looked round about, and said to his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!…
So impressive a scene as that which had just been witnessed needed some explanation, and was well suited to be the basis of important teaching. With much meaning, therefore, "Jesus looked round about," and, arresting the attention of his disciples, taught them further concerning the entry of the rich into the kingdom of God.
I. IT IS DIFFICULT. It is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom! But that difficulty lies, not as the disciples thought, simply in the possession of riches, but in the proneness of men to love riches. And how short is the step from having riches to loving them! Only by exertion, only by the painfulness of self-denial, by giving up trust in riches and fondness for them, can the rich enter the kingdom of heaven. How hard is this to them who have abundance! How easy it seems to them who possess little! So difficult did this appear to him who knew all men, that the parabolic illustration has no extravagance, though to the disciples it shut out all hope, and rightly so from their point of view, as was confirmed by the Master's word, made the more impressive by his tender look - "With men it is impossible." Happily, however, there are springs of hope for men other than those which rise from among themselves. "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." So it comes to pass that, concerning the entry of rich men into the kingdom of heaven, it may be proclaimed -
II. IT IS POSSIBLE. Yes, it is "possible with God," without whom, indeed, nothing is possible. The human inability to effect salvation stands in direct contrast to the efficiency of Divine grace. Many things hinder the salvation of men; but few have more power than "the deceitfulness of riches," which lure to self-security and self-indulgence, which lead men to think they are better than other men, and are not in the same danger or need. The voice of riches is a syren voice; the hold of riches on the heart is firm as a death-grip. Riches prevent the lowliness, the childlike feeling of utter nothingness, of trustful timidity, of tractable weakness. They inspire a false sense of strength, and security, and abundance, and superiority. Often are they the devil's counters with which he buys men's souls. But "with God" the mighty may be made to feel themselves feeble, the wealthy to be truly poor. Great is the trust reposed; great the difficulty of fidelity. But "with God" even this may be done. And in our days, as has been happily in all the days of Christ's Church, men have learned to forsake all - even when that all was much - to follow Christ in lowly humility, in the poverty of self-abasement. Let the poor know that if they lack the hindrance which riches throw in the way, they also need the help of God; if they will rise and accept it, that help shall be freely given. And let the rich know that help awaits them; if they will stoop lowly and ask, it shall not be withheld from them. Then shall "the brother of low degree glory in his high estate: and the rich in that he is made low." All of us are poor before God; all by him, and by him alone, may be made rich. In proportion as the rich become poor shall they be truly enriched; and it shall be proved that they who press through difficulties hard as the passing of a camel through a needle's eye, are not left unrequited. Of the entry of the rich into the kingdom of heaven it may further be said -
III. IT IS REWARDED. How gently did the Lord of all warn his disciples of days of poverty and loss which were coming upon them apace, when both voluntarily, in the fullness of their love, they would sell "their possessions and goods, and part them to all according as any had need," and when with ruthless hands all would be tern from them; when "houses" and "lands" would be confiscated; when from the fellowship of brethren and sisters, of mother and father, and even from their own children, they would be separated "for the gospel's sake"! But how graciously did he assure them of the "hundredfold" which should be repaid them "now in this time," though "with persecutions;" and the great reward which should be theirs in the hereafter - "in the world to come eternal life." Who of the many disciples of those early times of suffering and persecutions was not rich in "house, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or lands"? And who that "left" these for his "sake and for the gospel's sake" did not - does not and will not ever - find, in the undying love and fellowship of the great spiritual community, and in the eternal riches of the heavenly inheritance, more than the "hundredfold"? Yet shall there be no pre-eminence, but a true equality; for the "first shall be last, and the last first." - G.
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!