Saturday, September 11, 2021


Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Every seamstress and tailor, has become expert at slipping a tiny strand of thread through a sewing needle. This “eye of the needle” is not the subject of today’s Matthew 19 parable.

Try putting a thick knitting yarn through that same tiny needle’s eye. You will ruin the yarn. And that is the point (no pun intended).

In todays’ Matthew 19 passage, the Eye of the Needle, is a people-size doorway in a large City Gate. Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate, so named because it accesses the road to the Port City of Jaffa on the coast, this is a perfect example. The Walled City of Jerusalem is a fortress to provide safety from marauders. At night the large city gates were closed, but residents can still come in through a people-sized door in the large Jaffa Gate itself. It is made for people, but not for large animals. This people-doorway is known as “the eye of the needle.”

Jesus uses the example of Jaffa Gate because all the City residents were familiar with it: the gate is the needle, and the people-door is the eye of it.

Camels carrying large loads can easily go through the large open city gate during the day, but at night, they would never fit through the eye of the needle. (See the picture on the cover of this bulletin.)

So Jesus’ parable today holds true: the gates of heaven are made for people. Those that present themselves at the gates of heaven with their Earthly possessions will be sadly disappointed. When looked at from front or rear (I advise the front), the camel looks like a wide-body jet, perched atop thin, knee-bulging legs. Not only would the camel’s load have to be removed from the animal, but all its ribs would have to be broken to allow its body to slip through a doorway made for people. The animal would be destroyed, and its load would still be outside the gate. An impossible situation.

The old joke that one never sees a Funeral Hearse with a U-Haul hitched to the back provides the same truth. Earthly possessions are for earth, and Treasures built up in Heaven are rewards for our New Life with Christ Jesus.
“Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” - 1 John 3:2 

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 19:16-30 - "The Eye Of The Needle"

In the three and a half years of Christ's earthly ministry, He held thousands of conversations and counseled perhaps many hundreds of people. The Gospels record only a portion of those exchanges, indicating that those dialogues chosen for inclusion in the Bible are of particular importance to us, and we should pay close attention to the lessons there for us.

In this world of sin it is easy to get our values distorted . Property, money, material possessions, or a large bank account seem to give us security, but it is all a dream. We came into this world with nothing and it is certain we will go out with no material possessions. Jesus has promised us eternal life if only we believe on Him and determine to dedicate our lives to Him. So many are bartering away eternity because they consider this world more important, their values are all mixed up. The rich young ruler who came to Jesus had this problem.

As Jesus looked at this young man, he saw in him such promise and such potential. And we are told that as Jesus beheld him, He loved him. And, yet, the story ends in tragedy.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all say that he went away sorrowful. He came to Jesus with a question and went back sad because he did not like the answer.

We find this story in Matthew 19:16 -30; Mark 10:17-30 and in Luke 18:18-30.

He was a wealthy man, and a young man. His eyes were set on religious matters - on teachers, eternal life, good deeds. He had the look of a seeker: he seemed willing to listen and eager to learn. He seemed a disciple-in-the-making. But his story has a dark end. It was he that inspired Jesus famous words "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom." Matthew was there to watch the unfolding of this man’s confrontation with Christ.

As you examine Matthew's account of this encounter, it is important to understand that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

Salvation is not based on something that we do; it is based on what Christ has done (His finished work). We do not contribute to our own salvation; Christ paid it all. Salvation is not working; it is resting on the work of Another, even the Lord Jesus Christ: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:5).

Religion is man trying to bring himself to God by human effort, by good works, by ritualism, by traditionalism, by sacraments, etc. Salvation is Christ bringing us to God on the basis of what He did for us on the cross: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).

God's holiness utterly condemns the best man ("As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one"--Romans 3:10). God's grace freely justifies the worst man ("For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"--Romans 3:23-24).

The gospel message brings to man not a work to do, but a word to believe about a work done: "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 1:25).

We are saved, not because of what we have done, but because of the mercy of God based upon what Christ has done on the cross: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). A person can never be saved by his own good works: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Good works done by sinful man can never please a holy God. The greatest good work is God's work accomplished by Jesus Christ who offered Himself on the cross as the sinner's Substitute. Thus we are not saved by good works, but we are saved unto good works: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

Are you resting fully in the finished work of Christ? Are you trusting in Jesus Christ, who He is, what He has done for you and what He has said in His Word? "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:22).

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