With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.
Contributed by Don Schultz
What is your favorite book to read? In my house, I have read one book at least 10 times in the last 3 weeks. Can you guess what it is? You probably think I’m going to say “the Bible” because I’m a pastor, and pastors always talking about how important it is to read the Bible. It is true that reading the Bible is very important, but that is not the book I’m talking about. In my house, I have read this book at least 10 times in the last 3 weeks. The book is entitled “Superheroes, Unlimited!” It’s a short book – about 10 pages. Lots of pictures of superheroes. It talks about all the different superheroes and there special powers – Superman can fly. Spiderman uses his web. Batman has his utility belt with those gadgets. Green Lantern has his power ring. “Superheroes, Unlimited!”
Can you guess why I read this book so much? It’s not because it’s my favorite book. To be honest, I’m tired of this book. But my 3 year old son loves it. Every night, my three-year-old boy – before he goes to bed, will get his favorite book and ask me to read it to him. He loves superheroes. He loves imagining people who have special powers, people who can do anything. They fight the bad guys. They always win. Anything is possible, if you are a superhero. You can do anything, and my little son likes to think about that.
This year’s graduating class picked a class verse from the Bible, my real favorite book, that talks about how anything is possible, with God. God is a real-life superhero. He can really do anything. From Matthew 19: “With God, all things are possible,” Jesus said. What a great choice of a Bible verse to consider, on a graduation night. Tonight we’re going to talk about how all things are possible, with God. This isn’t some pretend idea that comes out of a super-hero book. This is real. You believe in a God who is real. And this very real God can do anything – for you – and he as you step into the future, you can trust him. Because with him, all things are possible. Let’s think about this verse tonight, as we consider your graduation from St. Peter’s Lutheran grade school.
Do you know why Jesus said these words? The disciples were talking about how difficult it was for a sinful person to get to heaven. Jesus had just told them that it’s very difficult for anyone who loves money to go to heaven – it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for someone who loves money to go to heaven. When the disciples heard this, they were astonished. Everyone struggles with a love for money. Everyone struggles with sin. That’s why the disciples asked, “Who then, can be saved?” How can anyone get to heaven? We’re all so sinful, all the time. And that’s when Jesus said, “With man, this is impossible.”
Just stop there and think about what Jesus is saying. It’s impossible for a sinful human being to go to heaven, based on their own good works, their own life. Maybe you’ve heard people say, “I’m just trying to be a good person, and then God will let me into heaven.” Jesus says, no – it doesn’t work that way. It’s impossible. The Bible never says, “If you are a good person and try really hard, you will go to heaven. The Bible does say, that if you want to earn your way to heaven – fine – here’s how you do it – be perfect. Never be greedy. Never have any bad thoughts. Never have any bad words come out of your mouth. Always be perfect. Can you do that? No. Neither can I. Nobody can. Each one of us was born with original sin. And as we grow up, we sin more and more every day. We can never be perfect. And that’s why Jesus said, “With man, this – going to heaven – is impossible.”
But then Jesus said, “With God, all things are possible.” All things. That includes getting a sinful person like you and me into a perfect heaven. Here’s a test question for you graduates – how does a sinful person get into a perfect heaven? By trusting in Jesus Christ, who died on a cross for you, who rose from the dead, and who lives and rules eternally. You are going to heaven someday. You are a child of God right now. God loves you today, and forever, because of the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. Isn’t that amazing? With God, all things are possible. Of all the things you have learned over the last bunch of years, attending this Christian school, nothing is more important than this. You know, and you believe, and you trust in Jesus Christ, the Savior of all mankind – of all the thousands of things you have learned in this grade school, nothing is more important than this.
With God, all things are possible. This is your faith. And now you leave this place, and take your faith with you as you step into the future.
Does anyone know what the word “graduation” actually means? “Graduation” means… to be done? To be finished? Sort of true. You are finished here. You don’t have any more classes to take to complete the eighth grade. You get a diploma. And that’s a good thing. It’s a reason to celebrate. But technically speaking, the word graduation doesn’t actually mean “be done.”
It comes from a Latin word – gradus – which means a “step.” To graduate means that you are taking a step. You’re stepping up to the next level, which is high school. And you’re ready to take that step. It’s like a baseball player. He’s been practicing and practicing. He hasn’t played in a baseball game yet. He’s still sitting in the dugout. And then the coach looks over at him and says – “You – get ready. You’re going to bat next.” You’ve been waiting for this moment for a long long time. You’ve been practicing. Now it’s time for you to step up. You feel a little nervous as you take that step onto the field. You grab that baseball bat and you step up to the plate. Are you ready? There’s a real pitcher over there from a different team, and you’re in a real game for the first time.
That’s you. This is the moment when you step into the game. And the game is high school. And it’s not a game. It’s life. These next four years in the time when you grow from an eighth grader who has parents do just about everything for you into a young adult, who does most things for yourself. Are you ready to step up? Are you ready to grow and change into an adult?
Sometimes we feel nervous. I’m glad to be done with grade school. But I don’t know if I’m ready for high school. I don’t know if I’m ready to change into an adult. The baseball player steps up to the plate for the first time, and he’s nervous. Knees are shaking, hands are sweating. Are you ready?
You are. You have a special advantage over lots of other eighth graders in the world. You have something inside of you that no one can see. You know, those superheroes that I read about to my little boy – they all have something inside of them that no one could see. They all have some special power that they hide under their regular clothes. Superman has superstrength. Spiderman can jump and spin webs. What do you have inside of you, that no one can see? There’s something you have that makes you special. That helps you when you feel afraid or nervous? Do you know what it is?
You have Christian hope! You have Christian faith! That’s why your parents sent you to this special grade school. Not only did you get smarter here, but God put something inside of you here. You have hope inside of you. You have hope in a God who can do anything. You believe that with God, all things are possible. That’s called hope. That’s called faith. And you have that inside of you. What a special gift your parents have given to you, by sending you to this special grade school. This God, who can do anything, has taken all of your sins away and has opened the door of heaven to you. This same God is with you as you graduate, as you step up to high school. When you fall into sin, this God who can do anything will forgive you. When you’re in trouble and need help, this God who can do anything will deliver you. When you’re scared, and don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, this God who can do anything will comfort you and calm you. With God, all things are possible.
Just think of all the things you have learned about this God – how he made the world, how he covered it with a flood, how he parted the Red Sea, how he became a man and did miracles, how he died and rose from the dead, how he has taken your sins away and will someday raise you from the dead. God can do anything. And he loves you. And he is with you. Do you believe this? If you do, then you have hope, and you are ready to take that step, and graduate. May God bless you and be with you as you keep taking steps until you finally graduate into heaven. With man, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible. Amen.