Matthew 19:24 & Luke 16:9
In Matthew 19:24, Jesus says, “Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Every time you read this or a similar passage from the Bible that disparages the “rich man”, it appears that being rich can keep you from eternal life. Even Jesus came from a not-poor family. We know that He and His mother Mary dressed well; it’s the reason they gambled for Jesus’ clothes at the cross. After all, his father Joseph was a carpenter (an excellent and needed skill of the time, which it’s presumed was taught to his son, Jesus). So, why is the rich man always denigrated?
In Luke 16:9, you get a bit better understanding of the plight of the “rich man” in ancient times. Jesus begins this section on “the right use of money” with, “And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is …”.
One of the things I love about my New Jerusalem research Bible are all the footnotes from the “experts”. At the end of the introduction to this verse, the footnote says, “Money is here called ‘tainted’ not only because its owner is here presumed to have gained it dishonestly but because great wealth is rarely acquired without some [devious] practice.”
This is why great wealth was generally frowned upon — it usually wasn’t gained according to Jewish laws. Even Islam looks down upon “usury”, which is interest charged on debt usually at a higher than acceptable practice.
So, it doesn’t mean that anyone with wealth is going to hell and will not have eternal life. It all depends on how they gained their wealth, if it was at someone else’s expense, and if they loved their money more than God (see “The Rich Young Man” in the menu below or to the right). Even poor people come under this law of God.
It’s something to think about!