“With God all things are possible”

A sermon by The Rev’d Wendy Morecroft

Sunday 14 October 2018 – 21st Sunday after Pentecost

Based on Hebrews 4:12-16 & Mark 10:17-31


Let us pray:

Lord, take my words and speak through them,

Take our thoughts and think through them,

Take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you

Through the power of the Holy Spirit

And in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.


“Watch this if you want fulfilment in your life”

is the title of a very successful on-line video

by motivational speaker and Krishna monk, Gaur Gopal Das.

I was curious about why the video was so successful

and then disappointed by his very obvious answer:

Spend less time chasing a dollar, settle for lesser things

and spend more time with your loved ones.

This is good advice,

but today’s Gospel has Jesus teaching us

so much more about how to live an abundant life.


On face value, the story of the rich young man seems harsh indeed.

He asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life

and Jesus tells him that he lacks one thing:

“go sell what you own and give the money to the poor.”

We may empathise with the words of the author of Hebrews

that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow.”

The very notion that we should also sell our possessions

challenges most Christians.


There are however three points of good news for us in this story.

The first is that “No one is good but God alone.”

This gives us a clue that despite our best efforts we will never be perfect.

The second is that Jesus looked at the rich young man and “loved him”.

It is important to remember that we are God’s beloved

and as such God wants us to be part of God’s kingdom.


The rich young man, doesn’t hang around long enough

to hear the rest of the good news.

“He was shocked and turned away grieving, for he had many possessions.” Jesus turns to the disciples and initially makes entering the kingdom of God

an even harder task when he says,

“it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

We may well join the disciples in crying “Then who can be saved?”

But then we hear the really good news that “for God all things are possible.”

It is what we call grace.

The free gift of salvation that is freely offered to us is by God’s grace.


One of my friends who gave up everything he owned,

found that he then had to carry his pride around in a truck.

Peter may similarly be falling into the same trap of pride when he

began to say to [Jesus] ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’” Jesus cuts him off and assures the disciples

that they have done all that is required

but then adds the perplexing line

about the first being last and the last being first.

I think it’s best to remember that for God all things are possible.


Generally speaking none of us likes giving things up.

In the words of novelist David Foster Wallace,

“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.”

But just because Jesus asks the rich young man to sell all his possessions

and give the money to the poor

doesn’t mean that we should all do likewise.

Our economy would collapse for a start.

We may assume that the rich man’s possessions

owned him rather than him owning his possessions.

Most likely, he relied on his possessions first and God second.


Jesus loved the rich young man and again reflecting on the epistle reading

Jesus “is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

And before him no creature is hidden,

but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom

we must render an account.”

Jesus in loving the rich young man, knows him intimately

and also knows the one thing that he lacked.

Jesus similarly knows each of us intimately and

knows what it is that each of us lacks in our quest to inherit eternal life.


Could it be that, we need to give up our unbelief, or our lack of trust,

Or our time in order to learn more about Jesus, to pray and to worship;

or perhaps, we are called to let go of unhealthy relationships or addictions, perhaps we are called to do more or give more to the poor.

Hebrews once again assures us that

“we do not have a high priest who is unable

to sympathise with our weaknesses.”

It goes on to encourage us to

“approach the throne of grace with boldness,

so that we may receive mercy and find grace.”


And what of the poor?

Rev’d Lynn Arnold will be preaching this evening about the poor

given that today marks the beginning of Anti-Poverty Week.

It is interesting to ponder who are the poor.

Some people are so poor that all they have is money.

Likewise, it is sometimes the poorest of people who are the most generous. However we define the poor, there is a growing disparity

between those who have and those who have not in our society

and as Christians we are called to help.


Last month the Archbishop of Canterbury addressed the Trades Union Congress conference in Manchester. Part of what is said is as follows:


“Today I dream that governments now and, in the future,

put church run food banks out of business.

I dream of empty night shelters,

I dream of debt advice charities without clients,

when justice rolls down like water

and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,

the food banks close, the night shelters are empty,

families and households are hopeful of better lives,

for themselves and for their children,

money is not a tyrant and justice is seen.

But this is not a vision for Government alone.

Governments of any party, all parties will fail, act foolishly, be far away.

Only partnership between government and civil society

including unions and churches and everyone else

in business and community

can heal the sicknesses of society now and in the future.”


Is Jesus calling us to be a part of such reform?


As the body of Christ here gathered, we may be rich, or we may be poor, learned or have limited education,

Be influential or needing to learn to rely on the care of others.

Whatever the case may be, God opens our hearts and lays us bare.

Jesus challenges us to reassess

what it is that is keeping us from drawing closer to the love of God.


Fulfilment can in part be found

in spending as much time as possible with our loved ones.

It would seem clear that living an abundant life

and knowing the joy of being a disciple of Jesus, involves giving.

It involves loving our neighbour.

It involves helping to make the world a better place.

May we not turn away “shocked and grieving” as did the rich young man,

but stay and hear, and inwardly digest Jesus’ words of assurance

that “with God all things are possible”.

May we therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness. Amen.