Luke 18:24-30

29 Days of Prayer

Luke 18:24-30

Intro: Jesus begins with a difficulty (how hard it is to enter the kingdom) before He gets to the impossibility (easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle).

Earlier the ruler might have extricated himself, but now he is “very rich.” The greater the wealth the taller the barrier that stands in the way of finding yourself in the kingdom of God.

No one is able, in his own strength, to overcome the temptation of earthly wealth – whoever tries in his own strength to wrench himself free from the satanic hold of love for worldly riches, will always fail.

Luke 18:24 And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!  

To the hearers, this must have sounded more like an observation than a regulation.

Did Jesus really mean to sound like He was excluding the wealthy from heaven?

Luke 18:25 For 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.”

This parable presents a concrete image of something that is quite impossible. 

Camels cannot go through eyes of needles. What a silly thought! Just as silly is the prospect of someone who is devoted to his riches to enter God’s kingdom when his life ends.

Anyone with possessions has a natural tendency to want to earn his way into God’s good graces. It is hard, indeed impossible, to set aside the drive to do it yourself and to receive the gift of free grace.

The decision to dethrone his wealth he cannot make unaided. Left to his own devices, he will choose himself, his riches and his own performance every time. They do not find it easy to cast themselves on the mercy of God.

The same is true, of course, of those whose riches are other than material – those who are intellectually outstanding, those rich in artistic or athletic achievements, those skillful in trades and business, and so forth.

Jesus sets “enter the kingdom” and “go through the eye of a needle” as parallel to each other to underscore the sheer impossibility of pulling away from the gravity of wealth.

They react exactly the way the ruler did upon hearing the demand to give up everything.

Luke 18:26 And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?”

The ruler found Jesus’ instructions too hard: “…he became very sorrowful because he was very rich” (v.23). 

The bystanders echo this same feeling, and they verbalize it as a question: “…Who then can be saved?” (v.26).

Even more so than the ruler’s question, “What can I do to inherit eternal life?” – the bystanders’ question is the right question. 

“Who can be saved?” is more important to know than, “What is it that I must do to be saved?”

illus: This question emerges out of a perspective that places different kinds of people on different levels of significance. Rich men build synagogues. Rich men endow orphanages. Rich men offer alms to the poor. Rich men refurbish temples. Rich men fund all the things we consider important. If anyone can be saved, surely it is the rich. If Jesus says that such people cannot enter the kingdom by their noble efforts, and we know that us commoners do not have the wealth to carry out the noble deeds mentioned…“Who then can enter the kingdom?” (If it’s not them and not us, then who?) If the rich with all their advantages can scarcely be saved, what hope is there for others?
Luke 18:27 But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

It is a miracle of grace when those who have wealth do not put their trust in it. Man cannot, but God, can break the spell that riches exercise over the wealthy.

The question from the bystanders is the right one: How can anyone be saved since all of us participate to a lesser or a greater extent in the love of money which afflicts this ruler?

The answer is the same one given (1) to Abraham and Sarah when they were told that they would have a child in their old age, and (2) to the virgin Mary as she stood in bewilderment before the angel of the Lord: “nothing is impossible with God.”

Omnipotence overwhelms impossibility.

Here, Jesus affirms that salvation is indeed an action of God. No one enters the kingdom unaided. No one fulfills great worldly assignments to inherit eternal life. 

An inheritance is a gift, not an earned right. 

Salvation is impossible with men and possible only with God.

Luke 18:28 Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.”

The same thing that was too hard for the ruler and the bystanders, Jesus’ closest disciples had already done!

The disciples respond to their deficiency differently than the rich young ruler. 

He was confident he could do something to please God, and he went away sad. The disciples are confident they can do nothing to please God, and God does within them what they cannot do.

We have already noted that the instructions laid on the ruler not only deal with his personal wealth, but also with the putting away of the demands of his extended family. 

It was not just, “liquidate your bank accounts,” it was also, “surrender the top priority that you have always given your ancestors’ name and reputation.” “Property and family must come AFTER your commitment to Me.” – Jesus Christ

John 1:11 He came to His own [home/things], and His own [people] did not receive Him.

Here in Luke, it is clear in how Jesus responded, that Peter is talking about far more than buildings and furniture.

Lit. “we have left what is ours and have followed You.”

Relatives and relationships are some of the costliest sacrifices disciples can make.

illus: Peter speaks on behalf of the 12 and declares, “We did what the ruler could not!” What value do the sacrifices we have made have to our faith? We also have families and possessions. And we subordinated them all to You. We can now love them well because we love You first. We too are from the middle east. We too felt the cultural pressure to elevate family solidarity above all.

Indeed, men and women of faith in every age discover that the impossible demands of obedience are made possible through the miracle of God’s grace. 

It is a compromise to the gospel to invite sinners to a faith that makes no demands and costs nothing. To come to Jesus means leaving the world behind and getting rid of anything that takes the place of God in your life.

Luke 18:29 So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,

No one has left:

house        (loyalty to property)
parents         (loyalty to family)
brothers            “
wife            “
children            “

for the sake of the kingdom

In the ruler’s case we have already observed that his relationship to his wealth was such that he would not submit to a higher authority.

But what exactly does Jesus mean when He outlines “leaving” property and family for His sake? Can a man truly divest from everything and everyone?

It may help to note what He is NOT demanding. Our Lord does not mean that we should dissolve marriages or break family ties.

Instead, He teaches us to give honor and priority to our fear of God over marriage, brothers, ethnicity, and relatives.

It is no mistake that “house” shows up first on this list, and members of the family make up the other four items.

Earlier we specified that the 5 commandments from the decalogue that Jesus selected and rearranged in order was to give special prominence to the priorities of property and family.

Here in v.29 these two themes are the only items on the list.

Comparing the old requirements and the new requirements of obedience is revealing.

In the old obedience the faithful were told not to steal another’s property. In the new obedience, you may have to leave your own property behind.

In the old requirements, we were told to leave the neighbor’s wife alone. In the new requirements, the disciple may be required to leave his own wife alone.

In the old, the faithful were to honor father and mother, which correctly understood meant (still means) to stay home and take care of them until they die and are properly buried. In the new, the disciple may have to leave them in response to a higher loyalty.

It is nearly impossible to adequately explain what all of this means in middle eastern culture.

The two unassailable loyalties that anyone from that culture is basically required to consider more important than life itself are family and the village homestead/ancestral home. 

When Jesus put both in one list, and then demands a loyalty that supersedes them both, He is requiring something that is truly impossible for a man from the middle east, given the pressures of his culture.

The 10 Commandments he can manage, but this is too much.

Only with God are such things possible. 

The disciples were given grace to respond to the new pattern of obedience. They broke the pattern of their cultural demands and placed obedience to Jesus higher than loyalty to family and property.

Luke 18:30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

God is not only more demanding than people cared to think, but also more generous than they dared to hope.
Augustine – Command what You will, O Lord, but give what You command.

Many Christians have experienced in the fellowship of their local churches the families they never experienced in their birth homes.


1.    Salvation is beyond human reach; it is possible only with God
2.    The life of faith is defined by loyalty to Jesus. This commitment must surpass loyalty to family and prosperity.
3.    Possessions and what they represent can be a major obstacle to an obedient response to the call, “follow Me.”
4.    Those who seek to earn eternal life, like the ruler, find insurmountable barriers in their path.


Luke 18:18 “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Luke 18:30 “and who shall…receive…in the age to come eternal life.”


Luke 18:20 You know the commandments: 

‘Do not commit adultery’
‘Do not murder’
‘Do not steal’
‘Do not bear false witness’
‘Honor your father and your mother’

Luke 18:21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

Luke 18:29 So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left

or parents
or brothers
or wife
or children, 

for the sake of the kingdom of God

C/C’    NEW OBEDIENCE explained/NEW OBEDIENCE fulfilled

Luke 18:22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him,

“You still lack one thing.

Sell all that you have 
and distribute to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven;
and come, follow Me.”


Luke 18:28 Then Peter said, 

“See, we have left all [that is ours]

and followed You.”

D/D’    NEW OBEDIENCE too difficult/NEW OBEDIENCE too difficult but possible with God

Luke 18:23 But when he heard this,

he became very sorrowful,
for he was very rich.

Luke 18:26 And those who heard it said, 

“Who then can be saved?”

Luke 18:27 But He said,

“The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”


Luke 18:24 And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!

Luke 18:25 For 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.”