“I Can’t _____, He can!”


We all want to be successful, right? Understanding what we CAN’T do is KEY to that success. When I recognize what I can’t do… sing, design, cook, write computer programs, etc., not only does this help steer me in the right direction, but it fosters humility. And I’m proud of how humble I really am! OK, I’ve still got a long way to go, but i’m in process just like you!

Last Sunday I preached this message from Mark 8:1-21. It’s one of my favorite messages I’ve ever preached. I hope you listen and are blessed. HERE is the AUDIO. I’d love to hear your feedback. Some of my notes are below.

Sermon Notes

For some of us, like for the disciples, the story of Mark 8 may seem like a case of deja vu. Two chapters earlier (Mark 6), Jesus miraculously fed 5k. In Mark 8 He miraculously feds 4k. Jesus didn’t do the same miracle twice for the fun of it. He was making an important point. A point we benefit greatly from if we apply it to our lives…

MARK 8:1-10

During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied.

6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha [somewhere on the W. Shore of the Sea of Galilee].

The disciples should have had deja vu. They should have learned that Jesus was calling them to do what they couldn’t do with what they didn’t have, and that HE had all they needed to do what He called them to.

Aren’t you glad that the people Jesus chose weren’t perfect! They didn’t get it all right away, and neither will we. Especially when it comes to what Jesus was trying to teach them.

WHY do you think Jesus repeated the feeding of thousands?

In the words of my great prof, Dr. Bill Lawrence

Jesus is calling us to do what we can’t do with what we don’t have, for the rest of our lives!

 That was the point, “I can’t _______, He can!” A hard lesson to learn, which often takes many repeats!

As is often the case, when God is working, so is the enemy. In the midst of these great miracles, the Pharisees showed up to disrupt what Jesus was doing. Notice how Jesus stayed on point…

MARK 8:11-13

The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

The Pharisees already concluded that Jesus’ power came from Satan (3:22), and of course the miracles that Jesus performed weren’t enough. They were not asking for another miracle, they were asking for a sign from heaven, maybe more like the laser light show God did at Mt. Sinai to authenticate Moses as His servant! (Ex.19:16-19, ff)

Jesus’ miracles were ample proof that He was who He claimed to be, the Son of God, the Messiah, the One the prophets predicted would come throughout the OT.

Jesus didn’t waste His time arguing with the Pharisees. He stayed on point and headed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee with His posse.

Here’s where it gets interesting

MARK 8:14-21

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”

17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

“Twelve,” they replied.

20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

They answered, “Seven.”

21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

They should have understood who He was and what He was able to do.

They should have understood that He was calling them to do what they could not do with what they did not have.

His rebuke was not because of their failure to grasp the meaning of His warning (v. 15), but at their failure to understand the meaning of His presence with them.

~DTS prof Grassmick

Throughout the OT we see story after story of success because the Lord was with His people (Joseph, Moses, Joshua)… and repeated in the NT (miracles of Jesus, Acts – preaching of Peter, then Paul, then through the Church!).

Jesus wants us to understand… As if Jesus was saying, “Do you not understand who I am? Do you not understand YOUR LIMITS, yet MY LIMITLESSNESS!”

We are inadequate and unable… BUT He is ADEQUATE & ABLE!

Jesus is calling us to do what we cannot do with what we do not have for the rest of our lives! So what is He calling us to? (examples: trusting, following, and loving Jesus [“too hard”], loving our neighbors!) IMPOSSIBLE… I can’t… He can!

  • I can’t restore people to Jesus.
  • I can’t build His church.
  • I can’t change the hearts of others, let alone my own heart… but He can!

What is Jesus calling you to that you can’t do with what you don’t have?

  • Jesus CAN restore marriages/families, parents to children and children to parents  
  • Jesus CAN restore careers, influence, impact… DREAMS!

Apply It This Week 

  • “I can’t ___________.” What is Jesus calling you to? (family, work, service)
  • Have you been trying to do it on your own, without His help?
  • What’s been holding you back: fear? pride? Rebellion?

I Can’t _____, but He Can!