Brian Shaw is the world’s strongest man. He is the first American to win the World’s Strongest Man competition. Actually, he’s won it 3 times in the last 6 years. He stands a towering 6’8’’ tall and weighs a massive 420lbs. That is a lot of man and a lot of power. He put that power to work in Strongman events like the Atlas Stone, where the competitors have to pick-up, carry and place up on a stand giant stones weighing anywhere from 200-350 pounds each. Other events include the Fridge Carry, where they have to carry two refrigerators that combined weigh over 900 pounds. Then there is one of my favorites, the Carry and Drag. This is where the athletes first have to pick-up two anvils weighing 330 pounds each and carry them over a certain distance. After getting the two anvils they need to then pick-up a giant anchor, drag it the same distance as the anvils, attach the anchor to a giant chain, and then drag the 650 pound chain and anchor combination back to the finish line.
The men competing in these games are the most powerful men in the world. They are reminiscent of the ancient Biblical hero Samson, the greatest Strongman ever.
What should we see when we look at all this might? The greatness of these men’s should point us to see their Maker. They are a reflection of His glorious might and power.
This week in our series on the Top 10 Things Jesus Said we come to number 9. Number 9 is found in Matthew 19:26, where Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but, with God all things are possible.”
Jesus is talking about the indivertible ability of God. He can do anything and no one and nothing can stop Him. He made everything simply by the power of His word. By His power He gives life to everything. By His power He crushed Egypt with the 10 plagues. In His Might He parted the Red Sea, stopped up the Jordan River, and brought the walls of Jericho crumbling down. His power allowed Israel to defeat all her enemies in battle. His power was at work all through the earthly ministry of Jesus. He caused the Virgin Birth, did miracles through our Lord and after He was in the grave for 3 days Romans 1 says God declared Him to be His Son with Power by raising Him from the dead. Then through the power of the Holy Spirit the 11 scared disciples turned into the bold and fearless Apostles. God’s power was in their miracles and preaching. And God’s power is still at work wherever His word is preached as countless people have and still turn to Jesus Christ in faith. Countless people have been freed from the bondage of sin His power transforms people’s lives.
The Bible is one giant revelation of the transcendent spectacular-ness of God’s might. In His eternal awesomeness He comes barreling down from heaven into human affairs and it is impossible to miss His strength on display. Romans 1:20 speak still, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Back on earth, the Creator of it all appeared as a man, the man Jesus Christ, and truly He meant that with God all things are possible.
Jesus didn’t speak these words randomly. They came on the heels of His conversation with the rich young ruler. Who was the rich young ruler? He was a young man who had a lot of money. A man who was also conscientious of his religion and apparently was bothered about the afterlife. He was careful to follow the Law as best he could: offering sacrifices, living honestly and uprightly, offering charity. He probably grew up with good parents because when Luke 18 tells us about this same event it says that he told Jesus that he has kept the commands ever since he was a boy. He had a good reputation, a good portfolio, a good life and a good religion going.
But he had one problem: he didn’t know if he was saved. When it came to eternal life his riches and his religion could not give him any peace of mind. Nothing he had or did gave him any rest. You have to hand it to him for seeking Jesus out.
Sadly however, even though he sought eternal life he wasn’t ready to take it when he found it. Why? Why would he agonize over this issue and when the solution was found why would he turn away from it? Because there was still something more important to him. His wealth. Jesus said to him sell all you have, give to the poor, and then come follow me. The young rich man didn’t take the Lord up on this. So, he left Jesus sad. How sad that he left Jesus! He could have gone with Jesus and had joy, rest, and confidence of his salvation.
Illustration: Light pollution. He had a case of light pollution. A while back we had a telescope at the house. Every once in a while we loved sneaking out at night and looking at the stars and the moon. Last fall there was a lunar eclipse and late into the evening I set up the telescope in the driveway with some chairs. Once it was ready to go and the eclipse was about to begin I ran in and woke the kids up. We got them all bundled up and we all went out and got to see the shadow of the earth slowly pass over the moon. One thing you learn about when you start to read up on the stargazing hobby is something called light pollution. Light pollution from the earth prevents you from seeing more stars in the sky. Light pollution is the combined effect of city lights from parking lots, highways, and buildings creating a glow in the sky. The negative effect for the stargazer is that stars that would otherwise be seen can’t be seen. In other words, someone can’t see the lights of the heavens because the artificial lights of earth are getting in the way.
This rich young ruler had light pollution in his life. He had his eyes set on the artificial lights of this world, and therefore he was missing the true Light of heaven right before his very eyes.
As Jesus watched him walk away, He said to the crowd, “It is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to be saved”. Why? Because riches always bring the risk of the love of riches. Loving wealth and living for it are the temptation of having it. And that was the young man’s problem: he loved his wealth more than he loved God. There is an echo – it is the echo of our Lord’s words earlier in Matthew 6:24: “You cannot serve two masters. You will either hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Application: Make God first to you. For this rich young ruler, money was first. We need to ask ourselves, “What is first to me – God, or something else?”
Man is Weak
Next do you see how Jesus says man is weak? He says, “With man this is impossible”. In other words, Over and over again throughout Scripture God wants us to doubt man more. It is a bad thing to put your confidence in men. He said in Isaiah 2:22 “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?”
Trusting in man is equivalent to turning away from God, as we read in Jeremiah 17:5-7, “This is what the LORD says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in salt land where no one lives.”
Relying on man will fail you. Job described the futility of trusting in man this way: “What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spiders web. He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it but it does not hold.” (Job 8:13-15)
Many who do not know God live their whole lives as though everything they are and everything they have is by their own making. They are “self-made”. But the Bible says God gives a man the ability to make wealth and He opens or closes the doors to success. Proverbs says that the rich and the poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them both.
Learn the lesson of Nebuchadnezzar. He was the great king over the ancient Babylonian Empire who thought very highly of himself and credited himself for all of his success. Turn with me to Daniel 4:29-33 and listen to his generous self-assessment.
Application: We trust no one for our salvation. We do not trust in ourselves. We do not make politicians our heroes in whom we trust.
God is Omnipotent.
Next, I want us to see that God is Omnipotent. Omni, meaning all, and potent meaning powerful or effective. Look again at Jesus words, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” This is a very pointed contrast between the ineffectualness of man and the super-effectiveness of God. Man can’t, God can. That’s because God has all the power. He is “All-Powerful”. He is “All-Mighty”. I love Ephesians 1:19 as it describes it this way “…His incomparably great power..”
And when we talk about God’s power, that is what we are talking about: His ability. It is His “ablility” to do all things. Or as Jesus points out here God’s ability to make all things possible. We call Him the “Almighty” because “all Might is His”. He has all power, and, because He has all power He can do all things. We may also say then that He is “All-Able”. There is no limit to His ability. God does not come up short.
Just as an illustration, let’s say that I was at a stop light and a Ford Mustang pulled up next to me. And let’s say it’s not any ole Mustang, but a Shelby Cobra GT500. And let’s say I’m sitting in what I affectionately call the super-Kia and I feel a little macho – which you can do in a super-Kia. So I rev all four cylinders (if they’re all working) and look at the guy in the Shelby with a look that says, “I own you”. The light turns green and we both floor it. What do you think happens? Well, apart from a bunch of smoke from my engine and pieces of my car falling off, the Shelby is long gone. You see, not only did he have what it takes to beat me in the super-kia, he had way more than what it takes. He had a super-abounding kind of power that dwarfed anything I had.
That’s the kind of power God has. He not only has enough, He has more than enough. He not only has more than enough, He has waaaay more than enough. His power is a huperballon, an exceeding kind of power.
Illustration: God’s creation continues to preach about His power. When you start to learn some of the fun science facts about our universe the power to make it all has a humbling effect on you. It all just seems to dwarf you. For instance, the sun gives off more energy in one second than all of mankind has produced since Adam and Eve. Now astronomers tell us there are hundreds of millions of stars in our own galaxy, the Milky Way. All of them giving off energy like that. Actually, many giving off more than our sun because our sun is only of average size. And our galaxy is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies within the universe, each with hundreds of billions of stars of their own. That’s a lot of energy in this universe. Where’d it come from? It can’t be eternal because of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and it couldn’t have created itself because of the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. God created the universe, the stars, the planets. He stretched out the heavens and put the stars in their place and knows each one by name. The power in this universe testifies of the power of our God.
Application #1: God intends that we live our lives closely dependent on Him. “With”. It’s such an important word here. We are being shown that God is the kind of God whose desire is to be involved with us. With God. In other words it’s the alternative choice for how people choose to face life. With man, or, with God. Trusting in man, or, trusting in God. God offers Himself. Certainly He desires we look to Him.
Apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
This is even presented at times as a moral issue. Not turning to God is sinful, or, offensive to God. Why not? Rejecting Him to depend on someone else, like ourselves or government, or money or powerful people is basically telling Him that He is less than these others. He doesn’t measure up to what they can offer. Now certainly He surpasses them, but,
Application #2: Because all things are possible with God we have hope.