The Eye of the Needle and the Camel


In the encounter with a rich ruler (Luke 18:18-30) we see the following statement being made by Jesus: “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (v. 25; NET). This is a common story which is often discussed in small groups or in other Bible study settings.

Jesus is talking in drastic terms here. In Palestine the camel was the largest animal and the eye of the needle one of the smallest openings one can imagine. He is using hyperbole to make his statement very clear—it is impossible. Sometimes one hears that the “eye of a needle” in reality refers to a small gate in the wall of Jerusalem. But there has been no such a gate to our knowledge, and it was in the 11th or 12th century that such a theory took its form. Why can we not leave Jesus statement in such stark terms? Why do we try to undermine such perfect language?

It is worth to read the entire account (Luke 18:18-30) and to struggle with the implications for our own lives. Give it a try.

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