This passage is intended by Mark as a stark warning about the spiritual danger of wealth, and so we should resist the attempt to water it down. Despite a common legend that the “Eye of The Needle” was the name of a narrow gate into Jerusalem, there is no evidence that it ever existed . It seems that Jesus did want to make his warning about wealth as bold as it seems – the humorous image of a camel going through the eye of a needle is hyperbolic to make the exact point we want to avoid: wealth is a seemingly insurmountable barrier to someone entering the Kingdom of God.
It would be easy too, to imagine that this warning applies only to those that we consider rich, but to the majority of the world people in our country are as comparatively wealthy as this rich young ruler was. So this is a warning for us as much as anyone.
Wealth creates a barrier between us and God because it masks our need to be dependent on him. It indulges our natural appetites, gives us comfort, self-sufficiency, honour in the eyes of other, and an abundance of food and other pleasures. Having these needs met makes it hard for us to recognise our true, and more profound need to be set free from sin and brought into the freedom of eternal life. Even when we do recognise it, it makes it hard to take hold of salvation. Even after we come to faith. the deceitfulness of wealth presents us with great challenges. This is especially true because of our culture which is heavily influenced by consumerism and thus the temptations to belief that wealth and material goods will satisfy us.
Yet despite these challenges we can have confidence: God loves us, as Jesus loved this man, and makes the impossible possible. He can free us from the traps that wealth lays for us and enable us to have faith despite the greatest obstacles. A great example of this, and a contrast to the rich young ruler, is Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), who quickly repented of his greed, made restitution and gave away half of his wealth.
If God is willing to set us free from the things that hold us back from knowing him, whether it is wealth or some other difficult thing, how ready are we to obey him when we hear his command? Is there some obstacle stopping you from coming closer to Jesus? Ask God to show you. And ask him to reveal the truth of vs 30 to you too: The imagined advantages of wealth – or any sin that keep us from God – are nothing compared to the great blessings of his Kingdom, in this life and the life to come.