A Sense of Humor & Camels


   The story has been around for a long time about the small gate 
in the wall of Jerusalem called "the eye of the needle" which a 
camel can only pass through when stripped of all that it had been
carrying.  I first heard this thirty or more years ago.  My
information is that no such gate existed in the time of Jesus.
(Can anyone verify or refute this information?)
   But why do we not simply recognize that the camel going through
a needle's eye is a ridiculous picture of the impossible, and this
is the point that Jesus was aiming to get across (for this is an
aspect of the way he taught)?  We miss this point when we look for
other, "rational", explanations.
   Why a camel?  It was the largest land animal known to Jesus's
audience.  Why a needle's eye?  It was the smallest kind of hole
familiar to his audience.  Hence these were what Jesus chose to
use in painting a totally ridiculous picture of the impossible.
   For a similar "picture of the ridiculously impossible" see
Matthew 23:24, where Jesus speaks of the Pharisees who carefully
use a strainer to remove a tiny gnat - the smallest creature
familiar to his audience - from a cup of water, and then proceed
to swallow a camel!  Similarly again, the speck and log of Matthew
   Another example of Jesus painting a vivid and exaggerated
mental picture to make a point: Mark 9:42-47, where he speaks of 
having a millstone tied around one's neck, and of cutting off
hand and foot and of plucking out an eye when these lead one into 
   These examples show us two things: (a) Jesus used vivid,
exaggerated, even ridiculous language to paint pictures to make a 
point that would lodge in the mind, and be remembered by his
hearers, and (b) Jesus has a sense of humor.
        WARD POWERS,