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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, February 17, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 10:23–31

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (NRSV)

A preacher from my childhood explained that the “eye of a needle” was actually a small gate into a walled city. While it might be difficult to coax a camel through, with persistence it was possible. That preacher was wrong. The eye that Jesus spoke of was actually the small opening at the top of a needle. Now that we have that out of the way . . . .

Do we find it hard to believe that Jesus used hyperbole in his teaching? I have said, “I’m so hungry I can eat my shoe.” In actuality, I have no intention of eating a shoe! What would I do with the remaining one? I’m not lying, but that’s just not true. (Also, I’m not implying that my words are equal to Jesus’.) Jesus used absurd exaggeration to get people’s attention.

There’s an important transition in this passage. Jesus sheds hyperbole and offers this truth when he says, “for God all things are possible.” My translation: stop trying to do everything on your own because you truly need God. There are quite a few things that I unsuccessfully try to coax and control. Some seem as impossible as getting an animal through a sewing tool. Yet for God, all things are possible.

Sometimes I’m like Peter in this story and want to be sure Jesus knows all that I’ve given so that I’m sure that my effort is noticed and rewarded. Let go of my need to get credit? Take action only because I love God and neighbor? Seems impossible for me but with God, all things are possible.

Holy God, continue to get my attention with the absurd so that I can know your truth in my heart and live according to it. Amen.

Written by Andrea Denney, Director of Operational Ministries

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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