Pentecost 21 – St. Mark 10:23-31
What is the most impressive thing God can do?
That is a rather staggering question to ask ourselves, especially when you consider that God has done and continues to do so much.
It would seem that the most impressive thing that God has done is creating the heavens and the earth out of nothing in 6 days, and that He created just by speaking things into existence with the simple words ‘Let there be…’.
Of course, perhaps only to outdo Himself, God did not just create the heavens and the earth, plants and animals included, but He also created Adam out of the dust of the ground, and Eve out of a rib of Adam.
But it is not just impressive that He created using dust and an extra rib, He created the human body, which is an extremely complex system, of which after 6000 years we are still trying to figure out entirely how it works.
But God does not cease to impress even there; in this creation, He has created times and seasons, He has created a solar system that is perfectly arranged so that this planet that we inhabit is the only one to support life, and the only one able to produce all that we need for this body and life.
God certainly has gone above and beyond to impress us.
But He does not stop there in seemingly past tense actions that happened long ago.
God also holds the answers to the world’s problems; answers to questions of world power and governance are known only to God. Answers regarding what to do in so many of the complicated situations that are at play in the Middle East and Europe and Asia and Africa and even in our own country are known by God, and perhaps only to God.
And what is perhaps even more impressive, is that in knowing the answers to the many problems in the world, God also knows both the past and the future. God knows what the future holds for each nation, and for each individual. God sees all, knows all, remembers all; and uses that knowledge and power as He raises up and brings down those whom He desires to fulfill His purposes.
Yes, God does indeed do many and various things that we are not able; and we stand in awe and reverence at His greatness.
But we marvel, because these are things that we readily admit that we cannot do. We cannot create an entire universe, so we marvel that God has. We cannot solve world problems, so we are amazed that God can. We cannot see the future, or fully understand the past; so it is utterly mind numbing that God can.
And we in our humble nature, are impressed by all that God has done, and by all that He continues to do.
Yet when it comes to our own salvation, we are not so impressed by God’s promise that He will handle it.
After all, what is to stop you from doing so yourself?
It cannot be that hard; all you have to do is keep the Law perfectly.
And when we look at the Ten Commandments, we assume that this can be done with ease.
But then you become angry with a friend, and say hurtful things. You allow your eyes to wander, and you lust after another in your heart. You see a neighbor has a new vehicle, and you wonder how you can make it yours. You hear some not quite true news, and you spread it to others.
Even when it comes to God, you cannot keep the Law; you are constantly on the lookout for a new idol that you can bow down and worship, begrudging the call to pray, praise and give thanks to the one true God who created you.
As it turns out, keeping the Law is a lot harder than it looks; and so you move on to plan B; if you cannot keep the Law, than surely you can earn enough merits on your own to save yourself.
And so you try to do that. You help a neighbor and assume you have erased some of those sins; but then you become angry when that neighbor refuses to recognize your assistance, and you fall back into your old ways of breaking the Law.
You try to volunteer more, but soon find that volunteers do not make much money, and you find yourself dreading the time more than cherishing it.
And so you go to the last resort: buying your good merits in an effort to secure for you a place in Paradise. But how would you ever know? And what happens when you want to buy something for yourself? Suddenly buying salvation is no guarantee.
And when you turn to the Scriptures, you discover that you cannot earn your salvation by keeping the Law, by doing good for a neighbor, by service to the Church, or even by writing a check.
And like the disciples, you stand back in bewilderment and ask yourself and others, who than can be saved? If you cannot earn it, if you cannot buy if, if you cannot obey yourself into it, what is left? Is there any hope at all? It is impossible by any means you try.
And this is where God does His most impressive act yet.
For as it turns out, the most impressive thing God has ever done, is not creation, or governing, or even providing; the most impressive thing God has done, is save a poor, miserable sinner such as yourself.
God in His greatness and wisdom and power sent His one and only Son into the world to live, to suffer, to die and to rise for you.
Christ Jesus hangs on a cross on Calvary’s hill so that your sin of trying to save yourself might be forgiven. Christ rises from the tomb on the third day, so that you might have eternal life.
The most impressive thing God does is redeem you, a lost and condemned sinner.
It is impressive, because in all of those other activities, we stand back and admit that we are powerless and helpless in participating, so we let God do what must be done. But when it comes to our salvation, we insist on trying to help, we insist that this is something that we can do on our own, only to discover that it is impossible.
And yet amazingly, despite our efforts to help, our efforts to interrupt, our efforts to do it alone; God still saves us anyway, for with God, salvation is possible.
For by ourselves, it is impossible to save ourselves; but with God all things are possible, with God, it is possible to save lost and condemned sinners; with God it is possible to look to the cross and take comfort that Christ has died for our sins; with God it is possible to rest in the assurance that the blood of Christ was shed instead of ours; and that instead of the punishment we deserve, we receive the glory and inheritance that only is possible through Christ alone.
It is impossible to do any of this on your own; but with God, all things, including the salvation of your soul, is possible. And it is not only possible, it is accomplished.