"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man, that is impossible. But with God, all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26 (NIRV)
The ‘them’ were the disciples.
The ‘that’ was the disciples’ question of “Then who can be saved?" In response to Jesus telling them that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle, than for a rich man enter the kingdom of God.
This of course seems really impossible at first blush because today we immediately think of the eye of a needle being something we insert thread though in order to make stitches in fabric. But in context of the time there were often walls around towns to protect from raiders and wild beasts from entering the town. At a certain point in the evening hours the gates the town were closed and short of some extraordinary event they were not reopened until daylight the next day.
If one wanted to leave or enter the town during this period when the gates were shut. Often there was a small opening in the wall that typically one individual or beast of burden could pass at a time. The entry point was easy to defend as it was near impossible to storm this opening with a flood of raiders, chariots, or wagons. This was referred to as the ‘Eye of the needle’.
Eye of the needle
In order for a camel to be brought the eye of the needle (if it were possible at all) the entire load would have to be removed and passed though the eye by hand then it was possible for a camel to squeeze though in some cases. The passage was simply not intended for high volume traffic by design. So when Jesus told the disciples that it was easier for that came to pass though the eye of the needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Of course the disciples were in shock and said “Then who can be saved?". Which brings us to Jesus’s statement that "With man, that is impossible. But with God, all things are possible." So Jesus wasn’t saying that the rich can’t be saved, but rather that it was very difficult for a rich man but where things are impossible for man, but with God “all things are possible”.
It has taken a while but we are at last to the part of the passage I really wanted to focus on in the first place. Who would have thought that such a short verse could carry such a discussion? Regardless, the point I wanted to get to is that no matter what the situation where mans’ understanding, mans’ knowledge, mans’ ability, mans’ strength falls short of accomplishing the task at hand with God there is nothing that is impossible.
Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing is too hard, too far, too cold, too warm, or too late. We simply need to be ready to listen to God when he calls on us and be willing to obey the masters’ call. Because “with God, all things are possible”.