And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, 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.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Mathew 19:23-30).
The disciples reacted to Jesus’ bombshell about the riches matches many people’s reactions – shock and dismay. Even those who know in their heads that money does not buy happiness or heaven still wish in their hearts that they had more.
Jesus drives home his point by resorting to hyperbole to reinforce the point that those who are ruled by money cannot be ruled by God. Shocked by this statement, the disciples ask, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus’ reply sets the whole discussion in perspective. Jesus says plainly that no one can be saved. It is utterly impossible for a religious person, a rich person, indeed anyone to be saved. He did not say “difficult.” Rather He said, “Impossible.”
However, Jesus also declares that with God all things are possible. Jesus knows how to bring believers into the kingdom. It cost Him everything. He had to come and find us. If there had been any other adequate way, He would have taken it.
Because we could not save ourselves from our sins, Jesus came to do just that. Jesus’ answer is based on divine grace. Without grace nobody can enter the kingdom.
Peter speaks up for the rest, “What do we get out of giving up so much to follow you?” So now the narrative takes a surprising turn as Jesus tells a story about a landowner (see Matt. 20:1-16, a narrative we will pick up next time).