An adult male dromedary camel can weigh as much as 700 kilos and reach a height of three metres. By contrast, the eye of a sewing needle is less than one millimetre wide.
An adult male dromedary camel can weigh as much as 700 kilos and reach a height of three metres. By contrast, the eye of a sewing needle is less than one millimetre wide. It was the largest animal and the smallest hole known to the Jews at the time. What did Jesus mean by using such an absurdly impossible example?
The Master knew how to take advantage of the opportunity offered by this rich young man to teach his disciples about the dangers incurred by wealth. The young man came to Jesus to ask him which merits he still needed to acquire to obtain eternal life. He was probably convinced that he already had all he needed, but he wanted this very special rabbi to confirm this. Apparently he had kept all the requirements of the Law since his youth, and he wanted the Master’s corroboration that he was already saved on account of his good works: something akin to a certificate of good behaviour so that the doors of eternal life would be swung open for him.
[destacate]Eternal life can only be obtained through the saving grace of God, embodied in Jesus Christ
[/destacate]Nevertheless, Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and then you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me. (Matthew 19:21). Those words were like a bucket of cold water being poured over this presumptuous young man’s head. They struck sorrow into his soul because he had great wealth. Or rather, his possessions possessed him. He was their slave!
As soon as the young man left, the Lord addressed his disciples with the following words, “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.” (Matthew 19:24). Immediately his hearers understood that that was impossible and that, if Jesus was right, no one who was rich would ever be able to be saved. “Who then can be saved?”, they asked (Matthew 19:25). And not only the rich, but also everyone else trying to be saved by their own means.
Finally, the Master answered them, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). No human being can achieve eternal life by their own merit. This is impossible, as eternal life can only be obtained through the saving grace of God, embodied in Jesus Christ. The Master is not saying that God is capable of doing impossible things like getting camels to pass through needle-eyes. What he means is that it is not our good works that will save us. It would be the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Golgotha.
[destacate]The danger of wealth, from Jesus’s perspective, is that it can make people believe they are self-sufficient and need to receive nothing from anyone, not even from God
[/destacate]During the Middle Ages, from Thomas Aquinas onwards, this “eye of the needle” was said to refer to a smaller gate contained within the large gateways into Jerusalem , the aim being to reduce the hyperbolic force of Jesus words. The point these scholars were making was that if a dromedary bent down low enough, and the load was removed from its back, it could just about enter the city. This explanation became popular and is still put forward nowadays. However, there never were such small gates contained within Jerusalem’s gateways. This is a myth designed to make the eye of the needle seem bigger so that all kinds of wealthy benefactors could gain access to the kingdom of God.
The danger of wealth, from Jesus’s perspective, is that it can make people believe they are self-sufficient and need to receive nothing from anyone, not even from God; they might also engage in social relationships and material compromises with the world that will separate them from the Christian faith; it also risks making them egotistical and self-serving. Thus, having many possessions can be a very serious obstacle for a believer.
 Luz, U., 2003, El Evangelio según San Mateo (Vol. III), Sígueme, Salamanca, p. 175.