Sermon – Pentecost 22 – October 21, 2018
Mark 10:23-31 (24-27) ‘One Hump or Two?’
CT: God’s possibilities come to us as a gift through Jesus Christ. He is the way. He makes the impossible, possible.
Intro: For those who like a challenge, a Rubik cube has 43 quintillion possibilities, but only one solution; 1 in 4318. Allowing one second for each turn it would take 1,400 trillion years to go through all the possible configurations; impossible! Math experts calculate a minimum number of 25 moves to solve the cube. They call it ‘God’s Algorithm’. Interesting name!
Far beyond that are the possibilities astrologists have calculated for life to exist on earth; 122 constants must come together in one place in the universe at the same time. That gives our planet’s existence more than 1 in 10138 odds. The zeros behind the possibilities of the earth’s existence make it theoretically impossible. Add to that the impossible task of a single cell coming to life, even when all the components are present, and then to evolve or mutate into the complexity of a single strand of human DNA, and you have a whole world full of impossibilities made possible by God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Yet many, while agreeing with the math of the Rubik cube will trade in the math of our existence for theories of chance.
Impossible Sin: Jesus spoke of God’s possibilities. He said it was more than difficult to enter the kingdom of God, in fact on our own; it’s impossible! It means you keeping God’s Law—the 10 commandments perfectly—always. Moses told the people of Israel in Deut. 30 that God’s Word was close to them, in their mouths and hearts that they might do them. Never mind the myriad of laws on the books today; there are only 10 laws, the sum of which is love God and neighbour. But, like us, they could not and cannot keep them, preferring instead the familiarity of slavery—sin rather than trusting God in the middle of the desert, temptations, and trials of life.
Trapped: There are many things that distance us from trusting God. There is our desire for human relationships, physical touch, places of importance in society, not wanting our children to miss out on a thing, a generous retirement, a place on the football team, the appreciation of our peers. Our day to day interactions with others, lack of sleep, stress of work, health, or family can so quickly distract us from the direction that God would have us go. And it comes at us moment by moment. It can be as hazardous as taking your eyes off the road for just an instant to check that incoming text. And there is nothing we can do about it because we’re not sinners because we sin; we sin because we’re sinners. It’s easy to say to one another, “Well nobody’s perfect!” but that doesn’t cut it before God who is holy; without sin.
Control: The material things of this world are so ‘in-your-face’ that they can quickly gain control over you, even leading you to think they are something you’ve earned or deserve. If anyone is self-sufficient and openly blessed by God, it’s the rich. So if it is difficult for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God; what about the poor?
When I was in Nicaragua, I expressed that thought. Wealth blinds us to God’s possibilities by what we have and can do, hindering the speaking and hearing of the Gospel. But one woman said she thought the opposite was true; a poor man thinks God has forgotten about him—doesn’t care for him or love him. Now Jesus doesn’t say it is harder for a rich man; it’s just difficult. Speaking directly to the disciples, who in their own words gave up so much to follow him, Jesus said: “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God.” If a rich man can’t buy his way into heaven, or if wealth is not a sign of a heavenly reservation; what hope is there for a poor man, who has so little?
Camels: “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.” It doesn’t matter whether the camel has one hump or two, the best you can do is hold one down long enough to thread a single whisker through the eye of a needle. It could be Alison’s camel with ten humps, a horse, a dog, a cat, or a mouse that can slip through the smallest of cracks in the wall; none will pass through the eye of any needle in my wife’s sewing basket. That’s the point!
For Jesus and Gospel: “With man it’s impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” God who created the world out of His possibilities continues to love all He created, even you and me; sinners, showing His love by sending His Son, Jesus, the Christ. Jesus whole life on this earth defies the impossible. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary. God came to us bearing our flesh. He revealed God’s possibilities to those around Him by calming the storm, feeding thousands with 5 loaves and 2 fish, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. We call these things impossible; miracles! Remember what Nicodemus said when he came to Jesus at night that he knew Jesus couldn’t do the things He did unless God were with Him.
Jesus actively lived according to our heavenly Father’s Words, keeping His eyes fixed on the road ahead—knowing it led to the cross. Only His blood is truly innocent of all transgressions. Only His blood could do the impossible; forgive your sins and open the door for you and me to God’s possibilities. The devil is defeated. Hell is simply not a portion for those who believe; eternal life is guaranteed by the Spirit who lives in you, giving you life now for forever. God has made all this possible for you and me.
Possible: There may be 43 quintillion possible moves on a Rubik cube, but there is only one solution just as there is only one solution for eternal life and the kingdom of God; Jesus and the cross. God’s possibilities for us, the forgiveness of our sins, opens up your hearts, eyes, minds, indeed your whole lives to new possibilities in the world around us, opening you to a life of service. No it’s not the secret service, for what you and I are called to do is not done in secret, but outwardly by the will, strength and gifts that God gives us. It’s why the LWML-Canada theme this year speaks of being ‘Agents of Faith’. And so you are! The love of Christ compels you and me, moving our hands and our feet in service to others, from serving at funeral lunches to putting together care kits for the hospital to encouraging activities in our church that would include more and more people. (Where would our Christian witness be without the women of our church?) But most of all, you are an agent of faith when you are given the words to tell others of your God who includes all people in the possibilities of His forgiveness for Jesus’ sake.