“How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For 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.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Jesus’ words here are serious: wealth can be incredibly dangerous to our souls. In fact, he makes the point (contrary to the cultural views of the day) that no wealthy person can be naturally saved. They must be supernaturally saved—“what is impossible with men is possible with God.” Fortunately, we have examples in the scripture that show us that God does the impossible. One such man was Joseph of Arimathea:
Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.
The end of Luke 23 tells us that Joseph asked for Jesus’ body from Pilate. There are several important adjectival phrases attached to describe him—“a member of the council”, “a good and righteous man”, “who had not consented to their decision and action”, and “waiting for the kingdom of God”. This final phrase is particularly significant, because I see two alternative ways he could be described: First, Joseph might not have been waiting for anything. Secondly, it is possible that he was waiting for something other than the kingdom of God. As it was then, these are two common paths now.
Waiting is considered an evil in today’s world. Everything appears to come instantaneously. Internet streaming, fast food, fast passes at Disneyland. We are consistently told that we do not need to wait, and if we find ourselves waiting, we should take that as a sign that something has gone wrong somewhere. In contrast, consider an agricultural analogy God uses in the Bible: farmers are accustomed to waiting for rain and growth. Many of the best things in the world will only come through patience. This is a particularly significant truth for the wealthy, because money often becomes a means to circumvent the waiting process. Do you want next day delivery? The crew to finish ahead of schedule? That corner table no one can get? Just pay a bit more. Despite this natural enticement, Joseph avoided the temptations to short cut God’s timing for his blessing, and instead waited for the day when God would reward him.
Waiting for Something Else
There are a lot of people who are waiting–for a big vacation, a job promotion, for retirement. As people climb various ladders, in business or financially, moving into nicer neighborhoods or better schools, it is easy to let those goals take our primary attention. There is no shortage of available distractions by which we can obscure the bigger, more significant eternal realities. Joseph, in spite his wealth and the temptation it brings, put his hope in the Kingdom of God rather than the next pleasure or earthly milestone.
Waiting for God’s Kingdom
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6). The high value that Joseph placed on the kingdom of God over his wealth was the miracle which God worked in his heart. May God also give us the patience and faith to wait on His Kingdom and His timing. That is the way through the eye of the needle. Things impossible with man are possible with God.