Summary: Pentecost 20(B) - The impossible (eternal salvation) becomes possible: not by our works or not by our wealth, but only by God’s grace.


Mark 10:17-27 - October 2, 2005 - Pentecost 20

Dear Fellow-Redeemed & Saints in the Lord:

All things are possible with God. Today our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ teaches us that even the impossible becomes possible. Maybe in your lifetime you have seen the impossible become possi-ble. If not in your lifetime maybe in your parents’ lifetime the impossible became possible. There were many things that were impossible but became possible since the turn of the century. In the early 1900’s nobody thought about flying. It wasn’t long when the Wright brothers invented the airplane. It wasn’t long, not even in the 1950’s yet, where the people thought about walking on the moon was impossible. However, in the late1970’s people did just that. The impossible had become possible. Maybe there are many impossible things in your life that you can remember that became possible.

Those examples were just what man can do. Think about what God does--how the Lord God easily makes the impossible become possible. We were born into this world as enemies of God. In spite of that fatal flaw, God makes us his children, members of his heavenly family. The impossible becomes possible. It is all by God’s grace. Paul describes God’s grace in Ephesians when he writes: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not of works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). This is what Jesus is teaching in our text today--his saving grace, that


I. Not by our works

II. Not by our wealth

III. But by God’s grace


A young man comes to Jesus and his disciples. The disciples are with Jesus to hear all the questions of the young man and the answer Jesus gives. Maybe at the very beginning of our text you noticed the flaw or the mistaken idea of this man when he asked his question. "As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him." It seems as though he was going to wor-ship Jesus; but yet, he says, "’Good teacher,’ he asked, ’what must I do to inherit eternal life?’" There is the fatal flaw of this young man. "What must I do?" This man was putting the emphasis on himself and what he could do to save himself. As we get to the end of our text, we find out this is impossible. Man cannot save himself.

Jesus what the man was looking for. Jesus told the man there were a lot of things he could do. He says first of all: "You know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother." If you remember from confirmation class, this is the second table of the law, which says to love your neighbor as your-self. Jesus didn’t even talk about loving God. Why didn’t Jesus mention this? Partly, because this man was looking at himself so much that he forgot to look to God.

Remember that this man called Jesus a good teacher. What does Jesus say? Jesus replied, "Why do you call me good. No one is good--except God alone." Picture this man running up to Jesus and saying, "Good teacher." This is not a bad title. Jesus also realized, because he knew this man’s heart, the young man did not look at Jesus as the Son of God. He didn’t look at Jesus as the Savior of mankind, but looked at him as a teacher. Jesus had to remind him only God is good. If you want to do something, keep the commandments. What is the young man’s answer? "’Teacher,’ he declared, ’all these I have kept since I was a boy.’" The young man doesn’t wait, but thinks he knows in his heart that he kept all these commandments since his youth. He was a lifelong believer. This was a problem during the time of Jesus. Jesus came to the lifelong believers, Pharisees, who thought keeping the law would get them into heaven. Because of that, they didn’t recognize Jesus as the Savior. They didn’t recognize that keeping the law could not save them.

Keeping the law does not save us. What does the Lord demand of us? In another part of Scrip-ture it says, "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, is holy. Be perfect." When we look at our lives, we realize we can not be perfect. We can’t be holy because of our sinful nature. We can’t keep all of the laws of God. If we can’t keep the laws, we can’t get into heaven. The law does not save us. Our sins only condemn us. Paul writes in Romans: "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin" (Romans 3:20). Sure, as we listen to Jesus list these commandments (he doesn’t even list all ten of them), we still know we have done evil against God by breaking each one of these at one time or another. Maybe we have broken these commandments with our actions. Certainly all of us at one time or another have broken God’s laws (and still do so daily) with our words and even more often with our thoughts. It is impos-sible for anybody to work his or her way into heaven, because one sin condemns us. But what hap-pens? The impossible becomes possible by the mercy, the love, the grace of God, not by works, but by the works of Christ our Savior. In Titus we are reminded: "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy" (Titus 3:4,5a).

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