What does Jesus mean by this? Jesus is responding to his disciples on this exchange:
“With humans, it’s impossible. But not with God: Because with God, everything is possible.” (Mark 10:27)
Then Jesus looked around at his disciples and said, “How hard it is for those who are materialistic to enter the sanctuary of God!” The disciples were surprised at his statement. But Jesus replied again and said, “Children, how hard it is to enter into the sanctuary of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a materialistic person to enter the sanctuary of God.” They were greatly astonished, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” But he replied, “With humans, it’s impossible. But not with God: Because with God, everything is possible.” (Mark 10:23-27)The point relates to the difference between us climbing to heaven or being raised up to heaven.
What is climbing up versus being raised up?
The climbing up process is one where a person tries to utilize whatever austerity, strength, ability, power, or opportunity we might have to try to lift ourselves out of this world of matter - to be saved - to thus "enter the sanctuary of God."
As such, we find there are many who will make physical sacrifices or practice difficult austerities, thinking that these will result in their being saved or "entering the sanctuary of God." Some will actually see this as a sort of entrance fee - that one must do certain rituals or sacrifices in order to become saved. Sometimes this gets quite grotesque - as we find people beating themselves or having themselves nailed to crosses as ritualistic sacrifices.
But Jesus is not condoning this strategy. Certainly, he did instruct the wealthy man who wanted to follow him to sell all his belongings and give the money to the poor. But that was to test his determination - as we discussed in this previous verse. Selling our possessions and giving to the poor is not a ticket to "enter the sanctuary of God" - as though we can pay our way in.
Furthermore, wealth is relative: Is being wealthy having $5 or $5 million? A person may be just as well attached to their last $5 as they are attached to $5 million. And as such, attachment to matter - and attachment to our false identity related to our temporary physical body - is the crux of the issue.
Jesus' doctrine is clearly not maintaining the climbing up process. Rather, he is teaching the raising up process. What is this? This is the acceptance that we cannot be saved without the mercy of the Supreme Being.
You see, being saved is not a status that we achieve, and going to heaven (or "entering the sanctuary of God") is not leaving one place to go to another place.
Rather, being saved is a condition of the heart. It is a change of consciousness. It is essentially a relationship - a relationship of love for the Supreme Being. Maintaining such a consciousness of love and loving service for God is becoming saved. And we could be physically anywhere in God's creation and be in heaven if we are loving the Supreme Being. This is because God has created everything - and if we are considering the "kingdom of God" as a place - then that place is everywhere.
We might compare this to a child living in the house of his parents. Should the child be rebellious and not do what pleases the parents, that house will be full of tension and anxiety. It won't be a nice place to live for anyone. But should the child recognize the authority of the parents and exchange a loving relationship with the parents, the house will be a place of happiness. It is always the parents' house, regardless of whether it is a place of happiness or not.
What is the 'sanctuary of God'?
Most translations translate the Greek word βασιλείαν to "kingdom" instead of "sanctuary." Why is sanctuary used instead of kingdom?
The lexicon clearly identifies that βασιλείαν is not a particular place, but rather, the acceptance of authority or dominion.
Secondly, everything is part of God's kingdom. Both the physical and the spiritual dimensions are part of God's kingdom. We are there regardless of our consciousness.
Rather, as we have exposed the more appropriate translation of βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ to "sanctuary of God" - because Jesus is speaking of a state of consciousness, rather than a location. Jesus is speaking of taking shelter in God. Accepting God's authority and taking refuge in God.
Understanding this, let's reconsider the situation. Jesus is stating that one may "enter the sanctuary of God" in this respect: "With humans, it's impossible, but not with God. Because with God, everything is possible.”
Clearly means that we cannot return to our relationship with the Supreme Being on our own. We must receive God's mercy.
Is this how relationships work?
This is true for any relationship. In a relationship, there are two parties involved and they both must participate in the relationship in order for the relationship to be ongoing.
This, of course, contradicts the notion that some have - of demanding to see God in order to believe in His existence. Who are we to demand that we see God in order to believe in His existence?
In fact, for those of us who make such demands, the Supreme Being will specifically remain hidden from us.
Because God is a person. He is not a monolith or a vague impersonal white light. He is referred to as the Supreme Being because He is a being - He is a person: A person with feelings. A person who can be loved and can love back.
This changes everything. We must come to have a relationship with God. And in order for God to reveal Himself to us, we must attract Him: We must learn how to please Him.
For those who approach the Supreme Being in complete humility - knowing that we have no power - no authority - and no ability to return to our relationship with Him without His mercy - such a consciousness will attract the Supreme Being. Such a humble yearning to resume our personal relationship with the Supreme Being - this will please Him.
Was Jesus trying to please God?
Jesus communicated that pleasing God was his priority:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:29)
"The One who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29)We can understand by these statements that Jesus was already in the kingdom of God/shelter of God when he made these statements. He was already in heaven - even though he had descended into this hellish physical world in order to save us. He was in heaven because of his consciousness - pleasing the Supreme Being.
And this can provide the means of our escape too: By coming to love and please the Supreme Being we can leave our self-centered consciousness behind and return 'home' to our loving relationship with God - where ever we may be residing.