Let me add some valuable context and clarification for this verse. If there has been any drawbacks to verifying the Bible, it is this: allowing for single verses to be quoted without any context narrowing and defining their meaning. In context, Jesus is talking to His disciples about the “rich young ruler” who had just turned away, “because he had much riches”, though he had expressed a desire to follow Jesus’ instructions about gaining eternal life. Jesus responded to him by saying that though he had followed the Law, he would also need to seek his possessions and follow Jesus. The man was grieved, “because he had much possessions.”
The disciples are aghast, wondering how anyone could possibly be saved? Remember that for them, a man with much riches was obviously blessed by God. Riches meant spiritual blessing. So in their minds, this man was a saint. Jesus corrects their thinking with what is a New Testament concept, that physically riches are not a sign of spiritual wealth. So for the disciples, they are thinking that if such a man can’t get into heaven, no one can. Jesus corrects them by saying, (Matt 19:23-24) “it will be hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! … it is easier to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of God.”
So what is Jesus saying here? Are riches wrong? No, Jesus isn’t condemning riches, but what happens when a person becomes wealthy. If it is impossible to please God without faith, then you must have faith to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Faith in God can be clouded or obscured when you put your faith in your possessions. When you see your possessions as more important than following Jesus, which this young man did. He had put his security and hope in his possessions. He felt that without his possessions, he was nothing, and worthless. What we discover is that a life that is based and founded in Jesus is far better than holding riches and wealth. Would God give us riches to bless us? Certainly, but we also remember that any riches we receive are not our own, but given to us to manage for the Kingdom. The reason God gives us riches is to use them for His glory. That is why it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, because he is afraid of losing his wealth for the sake of the Kingdom.
So what does Jesus mean by this enigmatic “with God all things are possible”? He means it is possible for the rich man to be saved. As far as the man himself is concerned, he cannot save himself. That is impossible. But for God, it is possible to save him, because God can do this act of salvation (through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ). The disciples were thinking that it was great blessing (signified by the man’s wealth) that was a sure guarantee of salvation. Jesus corrected them by saying it was not man’s effort (obvious by the man’s ability in business to create wealth) but God’s effort that saves. Within context, that is the meaning of this passage.
I might also use this passage to give hope to the hopeless. To someone who believes they are hopelessly lost. They may see themselves as lost with no hope of redemption, to which I might say, “for man this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.” A man cannot save himself. But God can save him. There is no sin so great committed by an unbeliever that God cannot save him. And that is saying a lot. But let that be hope for you as well. There is nothing you have done in your limited mortality that God is not so offended that He can’t love you any more.
Dear God, may I come before you humble of heart and soul. The things I have done I am certain have offended you and caused anger in you. Yet Father I have no where else to turn. Though I be the greatest sinner of all men, to You alone can I turn for my redemption. I cannot ask this lightly or flippantly, because my sin has been against You. And when I read Your book and hear Your words, I know I am dust. When I see myself through Your eyes, I know my worth and my sin. Lord I repent of my sins. I can do not other. I have offended the King of Heaven, to whom else can I go? Lord I pray for your forgiveness, not because of my righteousness, but because of the righteousness of the Son of God, who confessed His love for me by shedding His blood on the cross. May I claim that forgiveness for my own and receive undeserved righteousness in place of my wickedness? May He lay His blood upon me and cleanse me from my sin? My Savior and my God? I pray these things in Jesus’ Name, Amen.