And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:26-27
Ever since Eve (and Adam) desired and then took that “thing” which did not belong to them, mankind has been plunged into an inordinate desire for the things of this world. Because of this greedy nature of man, God not only established one of His commandments to forbid stealing but He also set forth two more commandments forbidding the sin of coveting. Everybody wants to be rich.
Apparently the Apostles were aware of this evil desire for wealth embedded in the heart of every human being. After hearing that 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, they ask, Then who can be saved [v 26]? They correctly realized that the greed and selfishness of man make it impossible for anyone to enter God’s kingdom. Jesus agrees with their theological insight, for He responds, With man it is impossible [v 27]. No innately covetous individual can expect to enter—or even be able to enter—the kingdom of God.
It is not a coincidence that coveting was uniquely recognized by Jewish teachers to be an expression of the sin of idolatry. Thus the learned Apostle Paul wrote, Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.[Col 3:5; also Eph 5:5]. How could someone who worships another god ever expect to enter God’s kingdom?
Nonetheless, even though it is declared impossible for man to accomplish entrance into God’s kingdom, yet Jesus leaves a wondrous opening in the door when He avows, With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God [v 27]. How can the impossible become possible? That previously shut door into God’s kingdom is opened and then held open for mankind by a pierced hand.
It seems oxymoronic that the door closed to the rich (and to those craving wealth) is to be held open by the wealthiest One in the universe. Saint Paul was inspired to explain it this way: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich [2 Cor 8:9]. So how rich was the Lord Christ? You can’t get any richer than owning everything! The Son of God is the one by whom the world was created, and because He is Creator (one with the Father and the Spirit), He has ownership and authority over all things.
Yet this wealthiest of the wealthy became the poorest of the poor. Paul wrote, For your sake he became poor. Not only was the humbled Son of God born into a poor household, and not only did He grow up without clinging to the wealth of this world, but the Lord Christ ultimately had no place to lay His head, and after even giving up every stitch of His clothing and the very breath of His body He finally attained ultimate poverty…He entered the grave. He then rose from the grave, and He becomes the rich man who entered God’s kingdom! In Him the impossible is made possible; we repeat, a rich man—the richest man—has physically entered the kingdom of God!
So how does Jesus enable us greedy folk to enter God’s kingdom? Remember, it is a pierced hand that opens and holds open the door to God’s kingdom. He not only led a life of perfect non-covetousness in our place, but He made atonement with His pierced hands and feet upon the cross. He was pierced for our transgressions and by His stripes we are healed. All of our sins of greed, selfishness and covetousness have been atoned for. He not only opens and then holds the door open for us, He unites us with His death and resurrection in Baptism, so that in Him we walk as saints through that heretofore unsurpassable door. In Christ, God makes the impossible possible, for Jesus has truly made us rich, giving us a wealth that has no covetousness attached to it, a wealth that includes the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. But we do not simply possess a future entrance into God’s kingdom. Already now we have been made super-rich as we possess Christ’s saving gifts, and already now we have entered the kingdom of God by faith. In Christ the impossible has been made possible.