The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost (10/17/2021)


Ps. 119:9-16; Eccl. 5:10-20; Heb. 4:1-16; Mark 10:23-31.


Possible, [The disciples] were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (vv. 26, 27).


Scripture’s first testimony is, God created all things. Before there was primordial stuff and the watery deep, there was nothing, only God “in Beginning” (Jn. 1:1), the place of eternal Presence. Many do not believe in creation from nothing; for men it is impossible!


After the woman heard God’s word from Adam, that if she ate the forbidden fruit she would die, Satan insinuated her credulity through the man, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the Garden’? … You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:1, 3).


Never having known death, the woman and man disbelieved God, weighing what in their experience seemed right; having known only Life, death was not possible.


When Abraham and Sarah were age-advanced and “the way of women ceased to be with Sarah” (18:11b), the Lord announced: the following year she would conceive and deliver a son. Sarah laughed at the impossibility of God’s word, provoking him, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (18:14a).


Today Jesus affirms, “The Possible God of the Impossible” (Mk. 10:27) teaching the “impossibility” of rich men and all from entering God’s Kingdom (vv. 24, 25). The disciples were “astonished”; belief in Jesus was being stretched, they exclaimed, “Then who can be saved?” (v. 26b).


Peter put a fine point on their doubt, “See, we have left everything and followed you” (v. 28); the implication being, following Jesus was about the dumbest occupation a person might engage; really, what would be the point of striving for an all but impossible salvation?


Such an attitude is not uncommon, especially for those afflicted by besetting sin; their inclination throws hands-up giving oneself over to sin, concluding, “What’s the use?” and loss of faith.


If Jesus’ disciples were surprised at teaching the relative emptiness of material wealth (Eccl. 5:10-20), Jesus was non-plussed that men would exchange heaven’s treasure and eternal life for worldly wealth terminating in death.


Jesus engaged his disciple’s confusion, explaining God, “the Possible God of the Impossible”. On that predicate there is then no concern about things or family. Jesus promises an impossible salvation for those devoted to his word; that for every loss in this evil age; brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or lands, that in his Kingdom, now and in eternity, these are magnified. God provides for body and soul in a new family by new Head and salvation place.


Adam lost Eden; God made his tabernacle in the desert with men for entry into the Promised Land, a more permanent resting place. David reflecting on desert Israel, prophesied, “Today”, all people are called to hear the Lord’s voice (Ps. 95:7 ff.), his incarnate Word, first among men; destined least on the cross for us.


Later Solomon would discern the vanity, of men acquiring earthly treasure and a place of his own. (cf. Acts 1:25). Solomon preached God fills us by doing his assigned work, for shelter, food, and rest without regard to acquisition (Eccles. 5:10-20).


On the seventh day of creation, God entered his rest with men fed by celebratory Bread (Ps. 78:25; Wis. 16:20, 21) and heaven’s Wine, today our Eucharistic foretaste.


Look to the architecture of this church; it is not our place with God; rather reflective of new Zion’s courts in Christ. Again, look around to baptized brothers and sisters, discerning God’s companionship in hearing impossible things now and to come (Mk. 10:30). If we become distracted from faith by worldly things, our family at the Communion rail lends encouragement.


With our new family there is inescapable persecution. Jesus distinguishes apparent “stability” provided by worldly families from the persecution of heaven’s family. The centurion at Caesarea-by-the-Sea presented his entire household for Baptism (Acts 10). On the other hand, the rich young ruler, paterfamilias, did not offer his household to Jesus as new Head.


Some of us, like the rich young ruler come to Jesus in face of earthly resentment. Discipleship demands suffering separation from the world, a pain the rich young ruler would not accept. Whatever identification we have with the rich young ruler; still judgment comes to individuals (Heb. 9:27).


As long as we hear the word of God in this place with brothers and sisters in Christ, never lose sight of our treasure, a family heeding David, “Today, if you hear [the Lord’s] voice, do not harden your hearts ….”


Jesus promised a hundredfold family increase, giving pause to ponder the parable of the Sower (Mk. 4:1-20) of that hearts as soil into which God’s word impossibly creates new hearts.


Some hearts estrange from the God’s seed, stolen by Satan; some fall on rocky ground, drying in the adversity of persecution; some entangle worldly brambles: deceit, riches, desire; allowing God’s word to be overtaken. But some, and this is a mystery against all odds, hear and receive God’s word bearing faith’s fruit, thirty, sixty, then a hundredfold in the place of our rest with God.


By our Word created faith, we discern “the possible God of the impossible”. For men, salvation is impossible; but God’s work in Christ advances salvation surely as the mustard seed (Mt. 13:31, 32), from faith to faith.


We pray, Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day, spiritual brothers and sisters faithfully continue or return to God’s word in the church’s communion; and earthly families abandon unbelief, attend his voice in this place of Resurrected flesh and blood. Amen.


pem.