Through The Eye Of A Needle

As Jesus was starting on his way again, a man ran up to him (155).   He knelt before Jesus, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to receive life that will continue forever in heaven?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No man is truly good.  Only God is truly good.”

Then Jesus continued, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit murder. Do not commit adultery.  Do not steal.  Do not accuse anyone falsely.  Do not cheat.  Respect your father and your mother.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'”

“Teacher,” the man interrupted, “all my life, I have obeyed all these commandments.”

Looking directly into his eyes with love, Jesus replied, “You need only one more thing. Sell everything you have & give the money to the poor; for this, you will receive an abundance of riches in heaven.

“And when you are no longer dependent on, enslaved by, or addicted to your worldly wealth, then you may come & follow me.”

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When the man heard this, he went away very sad, because he was very rich & he was unwilling to part with his worldly wealth.

Jesus looked around at his students and said to them, “It’s really hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of God.”

His students were shocked, especially when Jesus repeated, “It’s really hard to enter the kingdom of God! It’s actually harder for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God, than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle!”

(155) Matthew 19:16-24, Mark 10:17-23, Luke 18:18-25

Radical Love

Then Jesus again taught his students who were gathered there, emphasizing basic themes he had previously taught them on the mountain (64).

These things are essential to gain all of God’s blessings:
• Admit your self-inflicted spiritual poverty. Admit that there is some part of your nature that resists being controlled by God’s Spirit.
• Mourn for your self-inflicted spiritual poverty. Regret your self-inflicted separation from God.
• Desire to live God’s way, as you realize that your way is not working.
• Expect & accept the trouble that living God’s way will bring in this life. God will greatly reward your faithfulness in the next life.

Living for yourself in this life will never lead to God’s blessings in the next life:
• If your goal in this life is to be rich, you’ll be poor in the next life.
• If your goal in this life is to be full, you’ll be hungry in the next life.
• If your goal in this life is to be happy, you’ll be sad in the next life.
• If your goal in this life is for other people to speak well of you, no one will speak well of you in the next life.

Living for God in this life means you need to have different goals. For instance, you must love your enemies.

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As children of God in heaven, you must be good to people who hate you, you must bless people who curse you, and you must pray for people who mistreat you.

If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek, too. If someone wants to take your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Whenever another person asks you for something, give it to him. Whenever another person wants to borrow something, lend it to him. Do for other people what you would like them to do for you.

Why should God reward you — if you only love people who love you? Even sinners do that! Why should God reward you — if you are good only to people who are good to you? Even sinners do that! Why should God reward you — if you lend only to people who are likely to repay you. Even sinners do that!

Instead, as children of God in heaven, love your enemies & be good to them.

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Lend & expect nothing back. God offers blessings to bad people, as well as to good people.

Instead of being like everybody else, God wants you to be merciful, even to bad people — just as God himself is merciful, even to you.

 

(64) Luke 6:20-36

The Mountain: Gifts From God

Next Jesus emphasized the importance of being willing to receive gifts from God, in every situation (51):

Ask, and God will make sure you receive what you need.

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Seek, and God will make sure you find what you need.

Knock, and God will make sure the door is opened to what you need.

Everyone who asks will receive, everyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to everyone who knocks.

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Would any of you fathers give your son a stone, when he asks for bread? Or would you give him a snake, when he asks for a fish?

As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children.

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So, since God is perfectly good, surely we can trust him to give us good things whenever we ask.

 

(51) Matthew 7:7-11

The Beginning & The End

In the beginning, the inspired scriptures tell us, God created everything, from nothing (2).

CreationLaura Sotka 2008

In the beginning, our first parents, Adam & Eve, knew only good.  But when they took a bite of the apple, in disobedience to God, they also began to know evil.  As part of their punishment for disobedience, God said they would experience many trials in their lives & would be opposed constantly by Satan.   Because Satan had influenced this turn of events, God said he, too, would experience consequences — ultimately to include being crushed by a descendant of Adam & Eve, whom we know as Jesus.

About 65 years after Jesus left the earth, a close friend of his was inspired by the Holy Spirit to see that the end is much like the beginning (3).  That is, many of the perfections of the Garden of Eden, at the beginning of Genesis, are restored & taken to new heights in the new heaven & the new earth, at the end of Revelation.

Revelation

But the situation of Jesus’ followers immediately after Pentecost was far from perfect. Instead, persecution was the order of the day for most Christians, at the time when his close friend recorded the revelations given to him by Jesus.

So many early Christians wondered: How can the world ultimately become peaceful rather than chaotic? What can cause such pervasive change?

According to that same close friend, only Jesus is the answer to those questions.

 

(2) Genesis 1-3

(3) Revelation 21-22