Riches and Eternal Life

Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 10:22–26

22 And Jesus looked round about, and said unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of my Father!
23 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus spake again and said unto them, Children, how hard is it for them who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
24 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.
25 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
26 And Jesus, looking upon them, said, With men that trust in riches, it is impossible; but not impossible with men who trust in God and leave all for my sake, for with such all these things are possible.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

“. . . Having heard Jesus’s counsel, the [rich] young man was sad and went away grieving, for he was richly endowed with this world’s goods. Jesus then said to the disciples:

“‘How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!’ [Mark 10:23; Luke 18:24].

“Heretofore Jesus has said many things about laying up treasures in heaven. He has taught that a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that his soul possesses; He has spoken of those who lay up treasures for themselves and are not rich toward God; He has repeatedly called upon men to forsake all and follow Him, and many such like things; but now He makes it almost seem as though rich men cannot be saved. His disciples are astonished. This is a straiter gate and a narrower path than they had supposed was the case. Jesus, in words of tenderness, responds to their feelings by amplifying His words:

“‘Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 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’ [Mark 10:24–25].

“Their astonishment increases. It is a common Jewish proverb that even in a man’s dreams he will not see an elephant pass through the eye of a needle. It is a proverb that points to that which cannot be. As with an elephant, so with a camel; a bloated beast of gargantuan size cannot pass through an opening made only large enough for a silken thread. As Mark expresses it, ‘they were astonished out of measure,’ and asked among themselves, ‘Who then can be saved?’ [Mark 10:26]. Jesus gives answer:

“‘With men that trust in riches, it is impossible; but not impossible with men who trust in God and leave all for my sake, for with such all these things are possible’ [JST, Mark 10:26].

“How better could it be said? Truly, never man spake as this man. And as to the rich young ruler whose questions and conduct brought forth these gems of eternal truth, no further mention is made. Our last view of him is one of a man who prefers the comforts and ease of great wealth to the riches of eternity; it is of a sincere and devout man who is nonetheless deceived by the deceitfulness of riches; it is of one who dares not pay out a temporal-all in the cause of truth and righteousness here, so as to purchase an eternal-all in the realms ahead. We cannot but hope that he—being one upon whom Jesus looked with affection— came to himself, returned and accepted our Lord as the Messiah, and made his means available to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and further the eternal gospel cause.”

(The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 3:304–5.)

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