When Jesus said, “…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24) you do of course find yourself wondering just what He meant by this statement. Everyone knows that a camel can no way go through they eye of a needle, sometimes it is even hard to get thread through the eye of a needle let alone a camel! So what could He have possibly meant by this? Well, most preachers say, and I imagine they are probably right, that there were different ways that you could get into Jerusalem at the time, you could either go through what was called “the eye of a needle” or you could go the wider way around which would take longer, the eye of the needle was the quicker way into Jerusalem but there was a snag because the reason why it was called the “eye of a needle” was because it was a kind of a narrow gateway in and it was very restrictive to get through and it was especially hard if you had a camel and even harder still if the camel was loaded up. So the picture you get was that you had to unload the camel and push and urge the camel to go through that very narrow gateway. You hear that the camel had to crouch down somewhat and he would kick up until finally, after much trouble you would get him through. So most people picture that this is what Jesus meant by the “eye of a needle” and a camel going through it.
You find yourself wondering what this narrow gateway might have looked like and so you look on the Internet as people do these days and there are a couple of pictures on there of what these narrow gateways apparently looked like but of course with the Internet you can never be too sure so you can take your pick as to which one Jesus was actually talking about. Some people even say that Jesus wasn’t even talking about these narrow gateways but that He literally meant an actual needle or that He was exaggerating to make His point but you would have to say with Jesus, that everything that He was telling us and does still tell us to this very day is doable so I think that it’s reasonable to suggest that He was talking about the narrow gateway into Jerusalem at that particular time. These particular words spoken by Jesus have a kind of a haunting effect on people, not that that’s intentional of course, but what I mean by that is that it doesn’t appear that He’s talking just about material riches, you can be rich in your own ways as well as being rich materially and excess is often the sin in all of us, we are all such dumb fools at times and are just like dumb camels and we go to so many extremes until we find the balance so it’s no use any of us pointing the finger at others and accusing them of being too rich materially or in their own ways because we are all guilty of going to too many extremes and being rich in our own ways and in our own doings and sad to say, in our pasts as of from even yesterday, we oft find that we love our sins too much to give them up and who can deny that it was because of the extremes that you went to that it was in going to those extremes that you found out, particularly after the event, that that did not satisfy your hungry heart. We are often no better than anybody else and we might try again and again and again until we find out that nothing in this world can ever satisfy our hungry hearts just like Jesus can! We find out that it’s better to go through the strait and narrow gate and not through the wide gate or the broad way that leads to destruction which most people go through.
Jesus also talked of, as was just stated, “the strait and narrow way which leads to life.” It is important when people read these words of Jesus that they look closely at the word “strait” and see that it is spelt “strait” and not “straight.” The word “strait” means “a restricted narrow way in” whereas the other word which is spelt “straight” means, as we all know, a straight line or something. So it could be said that Jesus talked of two sorts of narrow and restricted ways into His Kingdom and He also talked of two broader ways through which you could go; you could go the longer way round to get into Jerusalem or you could go the quicker way through the eye of a needle; you can go through the strait gate and narrow gate that leads to life or you can go through the wide and broad gate that leads to destruction. A lot of people these days have come to the conclusion that when Jesus was talking of the strait gate and the narrow way that leads to life that He was talking of, as a lot of people say, “the straight and narrow way!” – the boring way! They say this with the wrong straight and narrow in mind, they picture going down the straight and narrow road as if it’s some kind of an endless boring, monotonous, straight and narrow motorway with a boring view either side and just an endless treadmill of a road up ahead until they finally find that that frustration is all over and they finally reach their destination. But that’s not what Jesus was talking about! Jesus’ actual words were:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
So the strait and narrow way that Jesus was taking about isn’t an endless highway, it can be an endless winding way that leads you through many adventures and to many exciting and interesting people and can be a journey that lasts your whole life. If you were going out for a country walk you might picture yourself walking down narrow pathways that wind in and out of the trees and that go over fields and hills and if you were to go on a nice country walk down a nice country lane then it would make better sense to leave all your baggage behind and as with a lot of country walks, you might initially find that there is a very narrow way in to your country walk, you might find that the “strait gate” that you are looking for has become all overgrown through lack of use. Less and less people go for country walks these days and so you might find the entrance has become overgrown with thorns, stinging nettles etc. but you so want to go on your country lane walk that it is worth risking a few scratches or even loads of scratches or even getting stung by stinging nettles. You might even find yourself thinking that someone is putting obstacles in your pathway to stop you going in there, maybe there is a barbed-wire fence or two that some fool has put there to block your way but you are so determined to find your “strait and narrow gate” that you are willing to search far and wide to find that way in.
Another good point to remember when you are going on your country walk is the people that you are travelling with. You might find that there are very very few people these days that are into the natural life but what would you rather have, the very few people that are into God’s good fresh air and into the natural surroundings of nature itself – God’s creation – or perhaps you’d rather go down the broad way with the more louder people, with people that are more showy and in a hurry, that compete up and down the highways there, that push and shove to get their way and what they want and that are so rich in their own doings that they just don’t care about anyone else anymore seeing as they are so wrapped up in themselves! If I were on a country walk then I’d rather leave such like people behind, such people would ruin my day every day, so let them go and sweat and all the rest of it with all the loudies and the rowdies down their straight and broad motorways and all that noise of traffic and where you can’t even hear a bird or see God in anything in their big towns, it’s too noisy to hear the voice of God speaking there and everyone has to go quick and catch a train. One of the most beautiful things about a country walk is that you can give God your full attention and He can give you His full attention and the people you are walking with have the full attention of each other and the full attention of each other is one of the most precious things you can find these days, particularly with the invention of the computer, people are more distracted from each other than ever they ever were and hardly anyone gets the full attention of anyone else anymore and on an individual level, this is more rare than ever. The strait and narrow gate is even harder to find these days but it’s always there and always will be, they will never block off God’s strait and narrow gate – it’s through Jesus that we must enter in – any other way is entering out! Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen”