Nothing is Impossible for God - Thoughts on Matthew 19:26


Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭26‬ ESV
'But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”'

This is one of those verses I feel is so often a verse taken out of context and misquoted and used to provide some sort of motivation to ourselves. In fact, the devotional I read the other morning that used this verse did that very thing. In a nutshell it pretty much said, "what's that impossible task for you? Well it's not impossible for God."

The problem with taking that verse out of context is if I then take it at face value it's going to set me up for failure. Ok, so flying like Peter Pan is impossible for me (and I mean legit, literally in the ability to defy gravity without the help of anything, except maybe some fairy dust and happy thoughts). But it's not impossible for God, so, in the words of Lloyd Christmas, "You're telling me there's a chance!?" Sure, God is powerful enough that He could allow me to do that, but the chance of that happening is worse than Mary Swanson ending up with Lloyd.

But, as the person who designs the motivational poster and puts Matthew 19:26 on it would probably say to me, "We don't actually literally mean impossible. We just mean something really difficult." And isn't that how we approach that verse too? We take the verse out of context, but by doing that we realize the impossible doesn't fit, so we replace it with difficult. So it becomes; what is really difficult for us isn't difficult for God. And then we use it as motivation as we prepare to hike that mountain, or run a marathon, or go in to an interview, or take a big exam.

(And here's George Washington even getting in on the action...)

When Jesus spoke verse 26 to the disciples, I seriously doubt He had Washington crossing the Delaware in mind. Let's back up a few verses so we can put it in to context to see what He meant.

So if we back up, He is speaking with the rich young ruler and points out the sin in this man's life. After having his sin exposed, rather than being freed by Jesus' words, he walks away in shame. Jesus then turns to his disciples and tells them that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven. (As a side note, over the years some have tried to make the argument that at the time of Jesus there was a sort of door or passageway in Jerusalem where camels had to kneel way down to be able to get through. And this place was called The Eye of the Needle. So, these people claim, Jesus wasn't actually speaking of a literal eye of a needle, but rather this place, and therefore Jesus wasn't saying it was impossible but just difficult. But there is 0 (zero) historical evidence to back up this claim and I believe this is just a lie from Satan to, once again, replace the word impossible with difficult.)

Now when you hear Jesus say it's impossible for a rich person to be saved, what is your immediate knee jerk reaction to that? I'm guessing it's something similar to the disciples. We are told they are astonished. Does it shake you up a bit? Maybe when you read that you thought 'Hey, I have money, and enough so that people would probably consider me rich. I love Jesus, but are you saying I've not been saved by Jesus?' Or maybe you thought, 'I don't currently have money, but I'm working hard on my Dave Ramsey plan and am hoping to one day have a nice nest egg saved up. So are you saying that's wrong?' Or maybe you thought, 'I know people who are wealthy and based on the fruit in their life I would say they love Jesus, but are you telling me they don't?'

Jesus doesn't really go further into details with money at this point, and I think the reason is because it's not so much about the money but more in general about idolatry and the love and worship of something that's not God. But, since He does reference money, let's take a look at it real quick. Based on other places in scripture I would say no, He's not saying a Christian can't be rich. I would point to these 2 things. Scripture reminds us that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and also tells us that we can't serve 2 masters. As we see with the rich young ruler, the moment he is asked to give his money up, he was hit in the face with the truth that he loves his money more than God, and serves it rather than God. It doesn't say you can't be wealthy. One can certainly posses lots of money and love Jesus more than that money, and serve Jesus rather than money. But, the Bible does make strong warnings about the ease of loving and serving money rather than God, and therefore strongly enforces the idea of being on guard against those sins.

The other thing I would point to to say that it's not really about the money but rather more so idolatry, is that the disciples asked Jesus who then can be saved? They don't ask "So rich people can't be saved?". They say "Who then can be saved!?", which that 'who then' sounds to me like it encompasses everyone.

And that brings us to verse 26 that is so often misquoted. The disciples are lamenting to Jesus and saying who can be saved!? And Jesus says what's impossible for man is possible with God. With man, it is impossible to rescue or save himself. But it is not impossible for God. It's impossible for those outside of Christ to repent and come to God because they are dead in their sins. But for God, even raising one from death is not impossible.

You know, as I write this, I now think I'll change my stance. Maybe it is okay for this verse to serve as a motivational poster. But maybe the picture on the poster needs replacing. Instead of a picture of a person running a marathon, or hiking up Mt. Everest, or jumping across some treacherous chasm, or sailing across the Delaware, it should be a picture of an empty tomb signifying God's ultimate power, even over death.

Or better yet, it could be a picture of you or me. You see, this verse should in fact serve as motivation. Not to motivate us to do some task that we think is extremely difficult. But instead let it serve as motivation in our prayer life for, and as we witness to those, that are lost. If it's not impossible for God to rescue you or me out of our sin, then it's not impossible for Him to save (fill in the blank). Who is that person you've given up on? Who is that person you have decided is unsaveable and said "God isn't going to save them."? If He is capable of saving you or me, then He is most certainly capable of saving that person you have written off. Don't give up on them. Pray for them. And more importantly, be intentional with them by becoming involved with their life and becoming a friend to them. It's not possible for you to save anyone. Maybe that's why you have given up on the Great Commission. Maybe you were trying to save rather than allowing God to save by using you, and since we are completely incapable of saving, you got frustrated and gave up.

Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭26‬ ESV
'But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”'

God, thank You for Your Word. It is living and active. It is sharper than a double edge sword. While all other things wither and fade away, Your Word remains forever. Your Word is mighty and brings life. As Your adopted child it is my joy and honor and privilege and delight to call You Daddy. Just like I delight in my children coming to me and telling me everything on their mind, You delight in Your children coming to You and casting all our thoughts and cares before You. We, Your children, rejoice that You are involved in all aspects and every detail (great and small) of our lives. So when we are preparing to run that marathon, or going in to a big interview, or have a big exam, or about to cross the Delaware, we are thankful that You grant us access, through Jesus, to come before You and ask for endurance, or the correct words, or to calm our nerves, and ask for Your favor. But forgive us for when we cheapen Your Word by reducing it to some spiffy inspirational quote to help us get through something difficult rather than allowing Your Word to cause us to look in awe upon You, the One who is capable of doing the impossible.

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