INI + AMEN.
In our Gospel lesson today we’ve got a passage that was spoken by Jesus that’s ended up on bumper stickers and their modern equivalent: memes. It’s on T-shirts, and probably coffee mugs, pictures, and posters. But just because it’s been pulled from it’s proper context and put into the context of 140 characters or less, doesn’t mean it’s in the right context. If we want to understand the Scriptures rightly and use them properly, we can’t just use a verse willy-nilly. Have you ever had something you’ve said taken out of context? So also we should work to keep what God Himself says, what Jesus says in context. Now, what verse am I talking about? Jesus said, “with God all things are possible.”
Now, the first important thing we’ve got to consider with this verse is this:
(3.) What does Jesus mean by “with God all things are possible”?
That’s our task as followers of Jesus, to listen to what He says as He says it, to not change it. We are to listen diligently to what He has to say, as God the Father says at Jesus’ transfiguration, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.”
So often this passage (“…with God all things are possible”) leads us into all sorts of idle and meaningless speculation. We tend to think of how great is our God, how awesome and powerful He is, how there’s nothing that He can’t do! But is Jesus using this passage to tell us this? Does He really want us to start asking that age old question: “Can God make a rock so big that He can’t lift it?” That’s not Jesus’ point here at all, as we’ll see, but it’s even clearer from Jesus’ own life that there’s something out there that Jesus, your God can’t lift. As Mark records later, “Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian…to bear His cross.”
We know that Jesus isn’t telling us this to show us how powerful God is. We know this from the disciples’ question. Jesus says, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples are shocked, and so they ask Him, “Then who can be saved?” It’s to this question that Jesus answers: “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Jesus’ answer has to do with salvation—not with God in general, but with how God saves you.
Now, what do we hear from Jesus about your salvation? We hear from Jesus that
(2.) Your salvation is impossible for you.
While it’s impossible for you, nevertheless, you are a child in God’s kingdom, as the disciples were. That’s why Jesus calls them and you “children.” Not only that, you can see that you’re in God’s kingdom just by looking around you right now. It’s why Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” You may loose your family relations, but you will gain them in spades in the church.
Now, this wasn’t of your doing—can’t be! “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!” says Jesus, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” You can’t do it, neither can I! We are sinners. Sinners can’t and don’t save themselves. It would be like a dead man reviving himself, like a blind man giving himself sight, a person with cancer healing himself. This is how it is with sinners who are saved. It’s not of works “lest anyone boast.”
But what’s impossible for you isn’t impossible with God. In fact,
(1.) Your salvation is only possible for God.
So, when Jesus says, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” He means that God’s gonna do all that it takes to save you. God will do it. This same thing is what we hear from the Blessed Virgin Mary’s conversation with Gabriel. “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’” All things are possible for God when it comes to saving you. By the power of the Spirit, the Son comes from the Father, and He becomes one of us. He, sinless though He is, bears your sins, He calls them His own. He dies. He delivers that salvation to you. He uses water and word to wash your sins away and make you a child of the Father. He uses men to forgive your sins. He gives out His body and blood for your forgiveness, and as one of our hymns puts it: “We eat this bread and drink this cup, Your precious Word believing That Your true body and Your blood Our lips are here receiving. This Word remains forever true, All things are possible with You, for You are Lord Almighty.”
What Jesus says in our Gospel text today isn’t for idle speculation. It’s not for us to wonder about “What can God do?” or “Can he make so much water that he can’t drink it all?” What Jesus is talking about is what’s impossible for you. Your salvation. But with God it’s all possible: becoming man, dying, rising, giving His body and blood to you for your salvation. Jesus wants you to know this:
ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE FOR GOD, EVEN YOUR SALVATION.
INI + AMEN.