“With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” – Vs 27
They say the key to good Bible study is context, context, context. In other words, if you want to understand a passage, you must look at it in its surrounding context. What do the verses around it say? What is the basic content or message of the story in which it is found? This verse from Mark 10 is a great example. We take a verse like this and, because of the tremendous nature of the promise it contains, we turn it into a panacea for all situations. And I am as guilty as anyone. How many times have I been in a difficult situation or been talking to somone who finds themselves going through a trying time, and I break out this verse. In the midst of my dilemma I find solace in reminding myself of God’s incredible power. “All things are possible with God!” And that is true. The Bible clearly teaches it. Experience clearly proves it. But the problem is, this verse is talking about something altogether different. Let’s look at the context:
The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard 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 man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” – Vs 24-26
You see, the context is dealing with salvation. Jesus has just had the encounter with the rich young man who had come to Him asking what he needed to do to “inherit eternal life” (Vs 17). The young man does not like Jesus’ answer and walks away saddened. Because Jesus had told him to sell all he had and give to the poor. Jesus had basically told him to trade his earthly treasures for treasure in heaven. The young man couldn’t do it. His love affair with his stuff was too great. Mark says, “he was one who owned much property.” When the young man walks away, Jesus responds to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” (Vs 23). Again, the context is entrance into the kingdom. Jesus is talking about salvation. For the disciples this was a difficult statement because they had been raised to believe that a person’s wealth was a sign of the blessings of God. The more someone had, the more they must have the favor of God. Which is why they were amazed at His words and asked, “Then who can be saved?” The basic thought behind their question seems to be, “If the rich are going to have a hard time getting into heaven, and they’re blessed of God, then what hope do the rest of us have?” That’s when Jesus responds with our verse for the day:
“With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
It is impossible for anyone to enter the kingdom of God – whether rich or poor. For the rich it is seemingly harder because of their dependence upon and attachment to their wealth. But every individual has something in this life they are attached to that prevents them from following Christ and finding salvation. For the young man in the story, it was his attachment to his possessions. He was possessed by his possessions. So when Jesus said, “Follow me,” he couldn’t, and instead walked away sad. This young man had been trying to keep the law, and he was looking for anything else he might be leaving out that he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus simply told him to give up everything of importance in his life in exchange for treasure in heaven, for salvation. To this young man, that was an impossible request. He just couldn’t do it. But with God, all things are possible.
You see, this is really a promise regarding salvation and God’s role in it. He is the one who saves. We cannot save ourselves. He is the one who redeems, we cannot redeem ourselves, no matter how rich we may be. When it comes to salvation, all of us have to walk away saddened, because it is impossible for us to save ourselves. But all things are possible with God. And those of us who have been redeemed from a life of slavery to sin are living proof of that fact.
For the rich young man, it was impossible for him to let go of all that he had become dependent upon for life, comfort, security, and a sense of self-worth. But God offers more. He offers something eternal and everlasting. I think it is interesting that earlier in this chapter Jesus had the discussion with His disciples regarding children. He told them
“…the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” – Vs 14-15
Childlike faith. Innocent. Dependent. Unquestioning. No baggage. No attachments. That is what Jesus was looking for from the young man. But instead He found a man who was bound by the things of this world. A man looking for ways to earn eternal life. He had come asking what he must do. Children in Jesus day had no rights, no real value or worth. They owned nothing. They had no power. Yet Jesus said the kingdom of God belongs to “such as these.” The overlooked, the undervalued, the unimpressive, the weak, the despised, the foolish, …
“…but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus…” – 1 Corinthians 1:27-30
All things are possible with God. He can and does save anyone He chooses. He can do what is impossible for man. He can save when man can’t. And I am living proof of that promise. He saved me! He did what I never could have done. He had His Son pay a price I never could have paid. He did the impossible and the improbable. And He is still doing it today. So when I look around me and see individuals who are in need of His saving grace, I need to remind myself that with God, all things are possible. He can save anyone. Which means we should be sharing the gospel with everyone.
Father, you are the God of the impossible. That any of us are saved is testimony to that fact. I was like that rich young man, attached to the things of this world and unwilling to let go, but you did the impossible. You redeemed me. You brought me to an end of myself. You showed me that I could not earn your favor. Instead, you saved me and for that I am forever grateful. I didn’t deserve it, but You did it anyway. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men