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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

Surprised and Perplexed

“And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!” – Mark 10:24 (ESV)

“Nothing can surprise me,” I said.

An absurd story on the news triggered me. Perhaps the absurdity of the report prompted my visceral reaction. My response was an idiom, not a literal statement. The phrase seemed to fit the moment.

The truth is: I’m frequently surprised and perplexed.

People’s statements and actions often baffle me. The refusal to accept evidence, insistence on believing lies, or the thought that we are somehow entitled to a carefree and unencumbered life, continues to astonish me.

Jesus confronted an affluent and up-and-coming young man who wanted to ensure he would inherit “eternal life.” He [Jesus] recited the commandments given by God. The young man said: “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth” (Mk. 10:20).

But when Jesus asked him to sell all he had and give to the poor, the young man went away disheartened and sorrowful. For him, possessions were more important than “eternal life.”

Jesus then offers an idiom to his disciples: “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” (vs. 25).

Some scholars try to explain Jesus’ words literally (i.e., the “eye of a needle” being a low, common entrance for animals entering the city of Jerusalem). But I see his words as an idiom: an expression intended to reveal a more profound truth:

“To enter God’s kingdom is costly!”

So, here’s a question for each of us to ask: “What’s more valuable to me than God?” Is it fame, power, control, position, wealth, notoriety, or winning at all costs?

It’s surprising and perplexing to me that many fail to see how costly it is to enter the kingdom of God.

But then, “nothing surprises me.”

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