Hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God

The well-known Christian businessman of a decade ago, R.J. LeTourneau, used to say, “If you give because it pays, it won’t pay!” (Lou Nicholes - Missionary/Author).

Riches

As Jesus watched the young man leaving, He no doubt was sorrowful as He turned to His disciples and shared how hard it is for those who have put their trust in riches to enter the Kingdom of God (v. 23). The disciples were very surprised to hear this (v. 24). Popular Jewish morality was simple. It believed that prosperity was the sign of a good man. If a man was rich, God must have honored and blessed him. No wonder the disciples were surprised! They would have argued that the more prosperous a man was the more certain he was of entry into the Kingdom. But God saw things from the perspective of eternity; the first became last while the last became first (v. 25). Those who are first in their own eyes will be last in God’s eyes, but those who are last in their own eyes will be rewarded as first.

It is fatal when a man begins to think that everything worth having has a money price. Jesus would have said that the possession of material things is as follows (vv. 26-31):

  1. It is a test of character. For a hundred men who can stand adversity only one can stand prosperity. Prosperity can so very easily make a man arrogant, proud, self-satisfied, worldly. It takes a really big and good man to bear it worthily.
  2. It is a responsibility. A man will always be judged by two standards-how he got his possessions and how he uses them. The more he has, the greater the responsibility that rests upon him. Will he use what he has selfishly or generously?
  3. The Lord’s objective in the statement was to express human possibility. If a man’s interest is in material things he will tend to think in terms of price and not in terms of value. He will think in terms of what money can buy and forget that there are things money cannot buy.

The man who trusts in himself and his possessions can never be saved. On the other hand, if we sacrifice only to get a reward, that reward will never come.

Application

If Jesus were to say to me, “One thing you lack,” to what would He point? What is it in my life that gets in the way of serving the Lord? What can I learn in this passage about the use of riches?

Mark 10:23-31 (English Standard Version)

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God." Peter began to say to him, "See, we have left everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »

More Mark commentaries

Mark 7:1-13
Conflict with the religious leaders over laws

Mark 7:14-23
Jesus attacks a system of rules and regulations

Mark 7:24-30
Jesus casts a demon out of a Gentile daughter

Mark 7:31-37
Jesus heals a deaf man with a speech impediment

Mark 8:1-9
Jesus feeds 4000 with 7 baskets leftover

Mark 8:10-21
The Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign from heaven

Mark 8:22-30
Jesus heals a blind man gradually

Mark 8:31-38
Jesus warns His disciples that He is going to die

Mark 9:1-8
Jesus takes 3 of His disciples to a high mountain

Mark 9:9-13
Three disciples question about the transfiguration

Mark 9:14-29
The disciples are helpless and ineffective

Mark 9:30-37
Disciples arguing about who is the greatest

Mark 9:38-50
Jesus says greatness comes from serving others.

Mark 10:1-12
Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?

Mark 10:13-22
Possessions don’t help you obtain eternal life

Mark 10:23-31
Hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God

Mark 10:32-45
Willingness to give extra service

Mark 10:46-52
Every male Jew must attend passover

Mark 11:1-11
Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday

Mark 11:12-18
Jesus said the temple is a den of thieves

Mark 11:19-26
Jesus cursed the fig tree and it dried up

Mark 11:27-33
Jesus questioned on His authority

Mark 12:1-12
Jesus tells about the owner of a vineyard

Mark 12:13-17
Pharisees ask Jesus about paying poll tax

Mark 12:18-27
Whose wife shall she be in the resurrection?

Mark 12:28-34
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Mark 12:35-44
Jesus makes a series of charges against the scribes

Mark 13:1-13
Prediction of "the time of Tribulation”

Mark 13:14-23
False teachers in the end times

Mark 13:24-32
A description of the Second Coming

Mark 13:33-37
We must not be found sleeping