When It Seems Impossible

When It Seems Impossible

When It Seems Impossible is a sermon that teaches us to trust and have faith in the Lord to help us through impossible times in our life.

Key verses:
Mark 9:14-24
Mark 10:17-27

Mark 9:23: “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

Daily Life and Challenges

For most people, their lives are daily experiences. They consist of normal activities, working, going to school, aiding others, and then ending the day with rest. It may not be your daily schedule, but it is normal for most people. We get through life day after day and you hear people talking about, “It’s Monday and I have to start working again,” or “It’s Wednesday, I’m glad it is the middle of the week,” and then “Thank God it’s Friday. I get a couple of days off.” You hear that kind of talk a lot. Why? Because it is normal activity that we go through.

Then there come some days in our lives when all that is normal is disrupted. We handle the usual problems that arise in anybody’s life. You are going to come across things that are difficult and challenging every day. Maybe you are working, and you have a work problem there. Or, maybe you have a mechanical problem with your car or something in the house. Everybody has issues that come up.

I am not talking about those; they are day-to-day challenges. I am talking about the challenges that are greater than anything we have dealt with before. And they are bigger than any challenges we have had, and they are not something that we have planned for or prepared for.

There are things that come into our lives, and we can prepare for them. Let me give you a contrast. We do not get a lot of tornadoes here, but we do get them occasionally. I can remember seeing two funnel clouds in all the years I have lived here. Tornadoes come up suddenly and they do not give you much warning. Now contrast that with something we do deal with here and that is hurricanes. With hurricanes, you do get an advanced notice that they are coming, and you have time to get ready. You have time to prepare, to get your supplies and what you need, and button-up as best you can. But you have time to get ready for it.

I will be honest with you, between the two I would rather deal with a hurricane. They are usually bigger storms and tornadoes can be tragic, but with hurricanes, you do get warnings and more time to get ready for it.

I encourage you, tonight we are not talking about a hurricane that you have time to get ready for, but the tornado that comes very quickly without much warning and catches you unprepared. If you think about it, that is the kind of problem we are talking about. These storms, or illnesses, or accidents that happen to us, or sometimes, it is the wickedness or neglect of other people and we all suffer from that.

Years ago, I was headed north on the turnpike and I heard other truck drivers talking on the CB radio about someone driving all over the road. I saw it. Someone called channel nine which the highway patrol monitor. The two truck drivers and I managed to guide this driver off the highway into a service station. The state trooper came and arrested him. What happened was the man was drunk. One of the truck drivers told me he was hit by a drunk driver and showed me a huge scar across his chest.

Those kinds of things are from someone else’s neglect, it is somebody else’s evil that happens to you and you did not do anything to deserve it. These things happen. Sometimes we suffer from other people’s actions. But these things we are talking about are things beyond our own strength and beyond our own wisdom. These are the times that seem to be impossible. These are the times when we do not think we have what it takes to deal with it. These are the times when it hurts. These are the times when the challenge seems so much bigger than we are.

A Father’s Faith

But there is another side to this. While it seems impossible, we serve the Lord God. We serve the Savior, we serve the Savior who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords and He is the God of the impossible. With all of that, I want to lead in to this story, beginning in Mark 9:14:

Mark 9:14: “And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.”

Mark 9:15: “And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.”

Mark 9:16: “And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?”

Notice that Jesus did not ask the disciples. He did not ask the disciple what this was all about. He looked at the scribes and asked them what they were asking his followers, his disciples, about. And they answered him.

Mark 9:17: “And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;”

We use the word “dumb” to mean something or someone that is not smart. That is not really what the word means. This means he could not speak. There was nothing wrong with his vocal cords, he could not speak because he had a dumb spirit. It does not mean a spirit that was not intelligent. It means he has a spirit that caused him not to speak, and it was not his own spirit.

The issue here is that the boy is demon-possessed. Demons exist and are not from an old tale. People were demon-possessed in those days and people are demon-possessed today. We had incidents recently and you heard about one young man who went into a place where he worked and killed seven people and then killed himself. It happens so many times. I believe it is demonic work. Satan gets a hold of people. The devil, a devil, or a demon, gets a hold of them, uses them, and then destroys them. Is that the kind of situation it is talking about here? Yes.

What would you do if someone you loved were possessed by a demon? I do not know about you but for me, it would be an impossible thing for me to deal with. What do you do? You cannot go to the doctor and get medication and then they are alright because it is not just a physical problem. You cannot meet with a psychologist because it is not a psychology problem. Doctors and psychologists may be able to help somewhat but they will never be able to totally solve the problem because it is not a psychological problem, it is not a medical problem, it is a spiritual problem. We are talking about a spirit that had control over this young man, and it is worse than him not being able to speak.

Mark 9:18: “And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out, and they could not.”

The demon spirit “tears,” or wounds, the young man physically. Foaming and gnashing of teeth sound like he is having a seizure, but it is more than just a seizure. He “pineth away,” or he wastes away. This father probably went to see doctors and other people for help before, but then he heard about Jesus and his disciples, he heard about healings. He brings his son to Jesus’ disciples hoping to see Jesus, but Jesus was up on the mountain with Peter, James, and John. The man comes and Jesus is not there, so he asks his disciples for help. There were occasions when these same disciples cast out demons and unclean spirits. And there were going to be occasions in the future when they would do the same.

I have not ever cast out a demonic spirit. Demonic possession is something that does not go away by itself. This demonic spirit is not only causing this young man not to speak but it is hurting him physically. Sometimes the young man was cast into the fire and burned. What is this spirit trying to do to this young man? It is trying to kill him. Why did it not kill him? Only God knows that, and God had a plan for him and going to do something to help not only that father and his son but people through thousands of years.

Mark 9:19: “He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.”

Jesus is speaking to that father, but he is speaking to everyone that hears and to all of us today. He says that we lack faith. Now, did that father have faith? Yes, he did. Jesus said his faith needs to be stronger. Well, how much stronger does his faith have to be?

Mark 9:20: “And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.”

Going to Jesus is the right thing to do, particularly if you have a problem. When the demon spirit saw Jesus, it hurt the young man again.

Mark 9:21: “And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.”

The father answered Jesus that this had been going on a long time. You may say that people get illnesses and disorders that can do this kind of thing, but that is not what we are talking about here.

Mark 9:22: “And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.”

Why does the father talk like that? Does he have faith in Jesus? He does. But he says that if Jesus could do anything, have compassion on them and help them? Why does he pray that way? He has gone for help before, and he came to the disciples and they could not help even though they helped others. They could not do anything about it. The father comes to Jesus for help. It would be like this: “I brought my son to the pastor and the pastor could not help him.” So, what do you need? You need someone who is greater than the pastor.

Mark 9:23: “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

Is there an answer to this problem? There is. Is this a real problem? Yes. Does it seem like an impossible problem? It surely does. Rest assured, this father has been trying to help his son all the boy’s life and has not been able to. He comes to the one place where he could get help, but it still seems impossible. That is not the end of the story.

I cannot portray to you the anguish that had to be in this man’s heart. I do not have the eloquence to describe to you exactly what happened. You see the words and I think you can put it together pretty well.

Mark 9:24: “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Can you not see this man weeping? Can you not see the desperation in his face? Can you not hear it in his voice? He cries out that he does believe. “Lord, I came to you because I believe. I am coming, help my unbelief. If I am not coming believing enough, help me to believe.” You know what happened next, Jesus cast that spirit out and the boy was made whole. This man was facing an impossible situation. He poured out his heart to the Lord.

The Rich Young Ruler

Now we are going to share another story in Mark chapter ten. Both situations are spiritual situations:

Mark 10:17: “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

Let’s talk about that question for a moment. This young man comes running to Jesus and falls in front of Him. Now, that all sounds good. And so is asking the Lord what to do to inherit eternal life. It seems like the right question. But there is one thing this young man does not understand.

Remember in the book of Acts chapter sixteen, this would happen many years later when Paul and Silas were in jail and there is an earthquake, and the jailor thinks that all the prisoners have escaped. Paul calls out to the jailor to not cause harm to himself for all the prisoners are still in jail, and the jailor jumps down into the pit and asks, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” It is a similar question.

But what this young man does not understand is, he asks, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” He is asking, “How can I earn eternal life?” So, when he asks what he must do, then Jesus answered accordingly.

This brings another point. When we pray, pray specifically. “Lord, bless me today.” There is nothing wrong with that prayer, but it is general. If nothing went wrong with you that day, then you might think your prayer was answered. But if you pray for something specific like, “Lord, I have a flat tire. Please help me to get to work on time.” When you pray specifically, you have a better understanding of when your prayer is answered. If you pray generally, you may have your prayer answered and not even realize it. So, this young man prayed specifically asking, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

Mark 10:18: “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” He says, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

Jesus asked the young man, “Why callest thou me good?“ Jesus is making a very important point here. There is “none good but one, that is, God.” meaning, either Jesus is God and is good, or Jesus is not God and not good. Which is it? He is not giving this young man a hard time; he is trying to give him a point of decision about who Jesus is. Either He is God, or He is not.

Everybody who comes to Jesus must come to that point of decision. Is Jesus God or is He not? If He is not, then who is He? Well, He was a religious leader, a great teacher, a philosopher, a great example. If that is all that Jesus is, there is a lot of other people that match that same description. Maybe you would be just as well off or better off just following them if that is all that Jesus is.

I have known some great teachers in my time. If I said their names, most of you would not recognize them at all, but they are great teachers and good people in many ways. I learned a great deal from them, but they are not God, they are not anything like God. So, Jesus is asking this young man to decide. “Who am I? Am I just a good man? Just a good master, or am I God?”

Mark 10:19: “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.”

This young man is often referred to as the rich young ruler. He was not a prince or high up in the king’s palace. He was rich, so maybe he inherited it and wants also to inherit eternal life. Maybe he had done well in business and got rich. But he is a ruler, a religious ruler of the day, not a political ruler. He is part of that select group that held sway over all religious life in Israel.

Jesus says to the young man that he knows the commandments, and the young man may have proudly acknowledged that he did know the commandments and if anybody knew the commandments, it was certainly him. So, Jesus tells the young man to not commit adultery, do not kill or steal from other people, do not lie about people, do not lie to people, and do one thing, honor his parents. Be an obedient child, not one of those children of disobedience. Where did these words come from? These words came for Exodus chapter twenty and later, Deuteronomy chapter five. They are what we normally call the ten commandments. This young man could have easily recited all of them.

Mark 10:20: “And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.”

The young man says that he has done this all his life. He was probably the kind of man you would like to have as a neighbor or friend.

Mark 10:21: “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

Jesus said to the young man, “you hypocrite.” That is not what your bible says at all. Jesus looked at him and loved him. Did the Lord Jesus want this young man to be saved? Surely, He did. He loves this young man just like He loves you. Jesus tells him, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

Jesus says something similar to other people such as Nicodemus and the woman at the well. Does He say these words to anybody else? He does not tell anyone to sell all that they had and give to the poor. So, why did He say it to this young man? Because He knew that was where this young man’s faith was. It was in his money and in his success. He tells the young man to take up the cross and follow Him. We know the cross is an instrument of death. Jesus is saying to follow Him to the death.

Point of Decision

Mark 10:22: “And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”

This is the young man’s point of decision. Why was the young man sad about what Jesus said? He was sad because he had great possessions. He trusted in his own abilities, the amount of money he had, the success he had at a young age. He was trusting himself to take care of things, he had covered things religiously because … I am going to use terminology that he would not have used but applied directly so that you will get the idea: He had gone to church all his life, been to Sunday School, and beyond all that, he had a good education and learned the Bible. He loved the Lord and so he thought he was all set. And I am not saying he was saved, but he was no atheist. So, he went away grieving. In John 11:35, it says that Jesus wept.

Mark 10:23: “And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”

A lot of people read that and some think that if you have the money you cannot go to Heaven. It is not what Jesus is saying. He is saying it about those who trust in their own possessions, their own successes.

Mark 10:24: “And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!”

Mark 10:25: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Now you can think about the tiny eye of a sewing needle, obviously, it is impossible for a camel to go through there. But I’ve heard some Bible scholars say that it is not what Jesus meant. There was an entrance to the city of Jerusalem and there was a gate that was so low that a camel would have to crawl through it to get to the other side. Whether Jesus was talking about that or the sewing needle, it is extremely difficult for that to happen. It is totally impossible to go through an eye of a sewing needle unless you can turn the camel to thread, and that is still not going to solve the problem. And it is difficult for a camel to go through the low city gate. Either way, Jesus is saying it seems to be impossible.

Mark 10:26: “And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?”

People were saying that if this young ruler cannot be saved and rich people cannot be saved, then who can be saved? They looked at this young man and thought if anyone could be saved it would be him.

Mark 10:27: “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

What did Jesus in chapter nine tell that father? “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” What is he saying here? The same thing, a different context, but same concept. “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” The story goes on and very much worth looking at but there is no time tonight.

Conquering the Impossible

So, let us get back to our premise where we started. There are going to be times, things, situations which for you and I are impossible. We cannot do it; we do not have the answer to get through it. We talk to other people and they do not have the answer either. We tried the things that they advised us to do, and we still have the problem. It seems to be impossible.

How do these two stories tie together? One, a boy is demon-possessed and the father comes for help. The other is caught up in his own pride. But Jesus gives the same answer. Here is what I want you to see tonight. If you have come to Jesus to be saved, you came by grace, His grace, through faith. You came and trusted Him to save you. You could not save yourself, there is no way you can save yourself. All the effort you could put in could not save you. There is no other human being who could help you to be saved or save you. Salvation is impossible except through faith.

You trusted Jesus to save your soul, and He paid for your sins. You trusted Him to forgive your sins. You trusted Him already to what for us is impossible. If you can trust Him to do that which is impossible, you can trust Him to do other things that are impossible. The problem that has been bothering you, that came out of nowhere, that you could not have prepared for like a tornado. if you can trust Him to save you, you can trust Him to take you through it.

“I can’t make it.” Is that like going through the eye of a needle and cannot make it? It is, isn’t it? With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. So, you cry out “Father, I believe, help thou my need,” and trust the Lord. Trust Him to do in your life that is impossible because He is the Lord of the impossible.

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Dr. Michael L. McClure, our lead pastor, is known for his in-depth knowledge and effective teaching style of biblical truths applicable to every day living.

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