It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When his disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter answered and said to him, “see, we have left all and followed you – so what shall we have?” Jesus said to them, “assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the son of man sits on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first [Matthew19:24-30]
The camel and needle analogy was in the context of Jesus’ preceding encounter with the rich young ruler, who though claiming to have been obedient to the Law since his youth (an assertion that Jesus does not directly challenge), he was unwilling to part with his wealth and follow the Master. Clearly the pursuit of wealth, power and prestige in this life is not compatible with Christian discipleship, yet the irony is that those who are prepared to forsake all for Christ and His kingdom are rewarded with privileges of a like nature that they have not directly coveted as well as the spiritual blessing that they HAVE rightly craved: to know and enjoy God for ever.
The twelve were told that when the Son of man came again, a time Jesus referred to as the regeneration or renaissance (Greek: paliggenesia), they themselves would be enthroned and called to exercise judgement (as indeed shall others – 1Cor6:1-4). The material blessings of life that the elect of God are required to forsake are compensated for a hundred-fold. Whilst the rich, the mighty and the proud are detracted by the shame of the cross of Christ and the demands of humble cruciform service as his disciples, the humble, the gentle, the poor in spirit and in material possessions who are rich in faith will be the true inheritors of the kingdom and the earth.
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