Key Verse: Matthew 19:26
Big Idea: God can demand the impossible, because He does the impossible.
The nineteenth chapter of Matthew is full of demands that seemed overwhelming to Jesus’ first hearers, and will seem overwhelming to us if we hear them clearly. A group came to Jesus asking what reasons would permit a man to divorce his wife? Jesus answered by going back to the original definition of marriage: God turning a man and a woman into one person. Such a union could not be broken casually, only when the other person had broken it already. The disciples, maybe half-joking, said it was better to not get married at all! Jesus told them that God gave some people a special gift of singleness, but that those who chose to marry must stay married no matter how they felt. That kind of demand must have seemed impossible.
Later, a wealthy young man asked Jesus what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus listed the fourth through the ninth commandments (Ex. 20) and the summary commandment: love your neighbor as yourself. Enthusiastically, the rich young ruler claimed that he had done all of these things his whole life and asked what else he needed to do. Jesus said: sell everything he had, give the money to the poor and come follow Jesus. To the rich young ruler this seemed impossible, and he went away sorrowful.
We know that people are saved by recognizing our sinfulness and trusting Jesus, not by selling all of our stuff. But Jesus used this as way to demonstrate that the rich young ruler had violated the tenth commandment, the one Jesus had not mentioned: Thou shalt not covet. When the man was gone, Jesus told the disciples that it was difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. The disciples, expecting that someone who was rich and successful must be exceptionally blessed by God, asked how anyone could be saved if a rich person could not. Jesus agreed with them: it is impossible for anyone to be saved! But God is in the impossible business.
No part of the Christian life can be accomplished in our own power, it is simply impossible for a human being to live up to Jesus’ standards. Thankfully, we do not have to do it in human power, but in the power of the God who raises the dead and makes stars with His voice. With Him, the impossible is possible.
Older kids: Why did Jesus challenge the ruler calling Him good, when He was sinless? Probably for the same reason Jesus told people not to call Him the Christ until He died on the cross. They would use the term, without understanding what it meant.
Discussion idea: If Jesus asked you to give something up to follow Him, what would seem impossible? How does a better understanding of God help us see that He makes all things possible?
Prayer focus: Pray that we will see things in their proper perspective. Our problems that seem insurmountable or temptations that seem overwhelming are nothing before God’s might and wisdom.
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