2008-09-11 - The Rope Bridge
Matthew 19:23 And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 "Again I say to you, 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." (NASB)
If we've watched enough movies or documentaries, or traveled to a remote enough location, we have all seen the bridge made of ropes or vines that spans a deep rocky gorge. The bridge is a frighteningly rickety bit of construction over a drop that is certain death if one of the ropes break or the person crossing misses a step badly enough. Oh, and in the movie, the bad guys are right behind you so there is no choice but to cross the bridge.
Just before this passage the rich young ruler has come to Jesus with great excitement and anticipation asking what he needed to do to receive eternal life. Jesus offered key commandments from the Law as a standard and the young man claimed to have upheld these statues from his youth. That is quite a statement to be able to make if it has any serious level of accuracy. Jesus offered him a final task - to sell all that he had and give it to the poor, and to come and follow the Lord. We are told that the young man went away grieved.
Why was he was stunned to sadness? It was certainly something that could have been accomplished. Why was it so difficult? The point is that it would have held a tremendous cost for this individual. It would have been taking a leap from comfort and station in life, to complete dependence - from the human perspective. What raced through his mind must have been like standing at one end of that rope bridge. Crossing it would be a total change in his existence, in everything he could see and touch. But that was the bridge that Christ asked him, and us, to cross. The rich young ruler started to walk along the edge of the gorge looking for a more sturdy way to cross. There had to be a better way.
But there is no better way. There is one way. As narrow-minded as that may sound, they are not my words. They are the words of God born in human flesh sent to us to show us the love of the Father and our way home to eternity. We forget that this life is only a vapor (James 4:14), and we are not promised to be here tomorrow. You may argue with me, but will you argue with God? Abraham bargained with God (Gen 18:23-32), or so he thought. God knew the end from the beginning and so allowed Abraham to wheel and deal. But even the enemy who breathes hate and war at God will one day bow his knee and declare that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. It is more certain that the sunrise that has already happened this morning.
If you don't think the bridge will hold you as you cross the ravine, remember that God loves you. He has your best interests at heart. He loved you enough to leave Heaven and come to this world, suffer punishment and shame and then die in your place, and rise again on the third day to open the way to Heaven again. Why was He willing to do that? Because there was no other way (John 14:6). If you're not sure about what waits on the other side of the bridge the first statement holds; God loves you. Are we assured an easy life here on Earth? No. But we are assured a home in a city of unrivaled beauty in eternity with God. (Rev 21 - recommended reading). Rev 21:4 says, "and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
Getting a camel through the eye of a needle is laughable. Changing our perspective to see what God has waiting for us instead of what we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands is difficult enough. There is nothing wrong with material possessions as long as it is you that possess them and not them that possess you. There is an advantage to having fewer possessions in that we would compared to something smaller than a camel to get through the eye of the needle.
Cross the bridge. Jesus is waiting with his arms open wide.
Grace & Peace,