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To Need to Possess is Inherent to Man, Said Jesus
Ruy Miranda (He is not a religious person)
Bible Quotes Science Info
An intriguing biblical passage becomes complex, given the power of its framing image: 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. In a secondary plane, however, this passage reveals something even more intriguing regarding human nature: the need to possess, in the sense of being attached to something, is inherent in man.
Such revelation indirectly flows from Jesus Christ. To understand how, it is convenient to recall the aforementioned passage or tell it to a reader unaware of it.
Dialogue Between Jesus Christ and a Rich Man
The Biblical passage starts in Luke 18:18
A ruler approaches Jesus and asks Him:
“Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
“You know the commandments,” answers Jesus, who then mentions five of them: "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not bear false witness," "Honor your father and your mother.”
It ought to be noted that Christ
does not mention the other five commandments, as it is
implicit that the man knows them. Indeed, his reply
shows just that:
“All these things I have kept from my youth.”
“You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
What have we got here? A rich man, to ensure everlasting life,
must keep the ten commandments, sell all he has, give it all to
the poor, and become Christ’s disciple.
Upon hearing the answer, the man becomes deeply sad, according to
the narrator, because he is so wealthy.
As the narrative continue, Jesus observes him and remarks: “How hard it is
for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God.” He then utters one
of the Bible’s most intriguing sentences: “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.”
A Centuries-old Discussion
This rather puzzling sentence has bred discussion for centuries.
Are the eye of a needle and the camel just an image conveying how
impossible it would be for the rich to enter heaven? Is the needle
that narrow space, preceded by a wider one, in a pen, which animals must
go through? Or is indeed Jesus Christ pointing out that only those
shedding material goods earn eternal life? Would a disciple of
Christ need to be poor?
The puzzlement inspired by Christ’s remark blurs the reader’s view of a
revelation in this passage’s remaining portion. It is a rather peculiar revelation
as it involves the disciples’ active participation.
The Disciples Speak Out
What comes next is a rather rare manifestation
from Jesus’ disciples, as they all are attentive listeners most of
the time. Their question is as revealing as it is astounding:
“Who then can be saved?”
Which is the same as asking, "Lord, so no one then will be saved and enter heaven?"
Are they, albeit indirectly, saying that everyone on the face of the Earth is rich?
No, such deduction makes no sense, for the biblical passage itself
mentions the poor, when Christ advises the rich man to distribute his
money among them. The generalization surely must have another meaning.
This meaning may well be attachment to earthly goods and assets for, says the
narrator, the man became very sorrowful, because he is very rich. The
disciples’ generalization (“Who then can be saved?”) suggests that
attachment is a hurdle to salvation and such hurdles are in all human
beings, a quite natural part of them.
Obstacles to salvation are not found in the amount of material goods but in
one’s attachment to such assets. This across-the-board attitude is common
to all men and women, from the richest to the poorest. The richer hold on
to fortune, in all its material forms; the poorer cling on to time-worn
footwear, to faded ragged pants and the like. Between these two extremes
are all other human beings, attached to a bicycle, to an old car, house,
apartment, travel money, funds or for education to satisfy needs and fulfill
desires. Everyone is attached to some material thing.
The Needs for Ownership, Attachment to Goods, is Inherent to Human Beings
The goal here is to come to know about revelation on human nature,
not to figure out whether anyone will be saved if attached to
material goods. Nor does it much matter whether selling assets
implies their acquisition by third parties and whether, once
distributed, money only changes hands. The reader will allow me
to remark on human nature: according to Jesus Christ, the need to own—in
the sense of pleasurable ownership—is inherent in human beings.
Does this Statement Come from Jesus Christ or from His Disciples?
Evidence points to this statement coming from Jesus
Christ. Before listing the evidence, let us ascertain what is next in the biblical passage.
Following the listeners’ question, Jesus says:
“The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
What does this information contain? Jesus says that God can save anyone so
attached, from the richest to the poorest. In other words, He agrees with
Prior to highlighting the evidence that Jesus Christ said so, we shall
dispel doubts about a possibly confusing issue. Who asked the question
containing information on human nature, the listeners or the disciples?
The narrator refers always to the “listeners.” However, after Jesus last spoke,
Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You”. Peter speaks in the
plural, on his own behalf and on the behalf of the other disciples. If the
narrator expands to say the “listeners,” the disciples—who left all to
follow Jesus—are indeed among them.
Evidence that the statement about human nature comes from Jesus Christ:
* Information that nothing is impossible to God at the very least means
that Jesus agrees that every human being holds on to such attachment.
*The disciples’ knowledge comes from the Master. In other words, Jesus
teaches them many things, including this feature of human beings’ attachment to material goods.
* The disciples’ unanimity. According to the narrator, the listeners ask, “Who then can be saved?” The narrator does not say, for instance, that
only one listener or disciple asks this question nor that it comes from
part of the assembly. Indeed, this question comes from a chorus-like
crowd, though we know not how many. This unanimity can only flow from
belief, from the fruit of a conviction that Jesus imparts on this characteristic of human beings.
Evidence thus points to the author: Jesus Christ.
How important is this revelation? It has many meanings, but we shall limit
ourselves to but two examples:
* Political realm – Any ideology seeking to remove this tendency toward in individuals is doomed to fail.
* Religious realm – If you are a Christian, here is a mild piece of
counseling: do not feel guilty or wrong or doomed due to this attachment,
because it is part and parcel of human nature—and God made you with it.
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