“‘You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
‘How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the kingdom of God!’
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’”
Uh oh. This is particularly troubling in Jesus’s day because wealth was seen as a blessing from a God, an indication of God’s favor. Further, it provided the wealthy one the opportunity to contribute to sacrifices in the temple, support for priests and rabbis, and promote orthodox practice outside of Jerusalem. Clearly, in Jesus’s day, the wealthy had an advantage in making it to God’s kingdom. That’s not, however, how the kingdom works. The kingdom must be received (like a child would) without any entitlement. It must be received as a gift, not purchased like property. It cannot be earned without God’s grace, because it is God’s work, not ours.