Impossible Breakthrough

January 10, 2024

As we enter 2024 I want to encourage you to keep looking to Jesus because with him the impossible becomes possible. Mary discovered this when the angel appeared and told her she would give birth to a son even though she was a virgin. The angel Gabriel said, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then again at the end of Christ's earthly life the impossible became possible as Jesus rose victorious from the grave and conquered death. Neither of these two miracles has ever happened before or since, yet God is still performing the impossible today.

Recently we showed a movie called Breakthrough to a group of mostly Yezidi young people at a Christmas pizza party. You might have seen the movie back in 2019. It is based on the true story of a 14 yr old boy who fell through the ice and sank to the bottom of a lake before the rescuers finally pulled his body out some 15 minutes later. Doctors tried resuscitating him but after 55 minutes without a heartbeat, they gave up hope. The situation seemed utterly impossible. So, it's not surprising that the book on which the movie is based, depicting this astonishing story is titled, Impossible.

After the party was over I took two siblings home and their parents invited me to come in for a cup of tea. Sitting down on the couch I noticed right beside me an open laptop with the words, Break through, appearing dead centre in bold font! I wondered, “Did their father know the movie title we had just watched? Perhaps he was purposely reading reviews about the movie so he could intelligently discuss the film with his kids?” However, he admitted that this was not the case. He didn't even know what movie they had been watching! He was simply working on improving his English 'phrasal expressions'! Then I looked closer and noticed the phrase 'break through' was defined: “to overcome an obstacle or difficulty.” Clearly this fit perfectly with the movie plot highlighting the extreme measures undertaken to overcome the awful problem of death by resuscitating and hopefully 'bringing John Smith back to life'.

There's an interesting back story as to why we decided to show this particular movie to these young people. A couple of us youth workers had seen the movie Breakthrough years ago. We felt that it could positively impact these youth in spite of the fact that they had shown very little spiritual interest. Indeed, over the last couple years several of them repeatedly refused to hear anything about the Bible or Jesus. In preparation for showing the movie our team earnestly prayed for a spiritual breakthrough and we weren't disappointed. We won't stop seeking to engage the youth in meaningful conversations based on the movie, whether visiting in their homes or during the Saturday sports outreach.

I decided to share this riveting story with a number of non-Christian friends (including half a dozen Muslims) and was greatly encouraged to see them respond positively. In fact, most of them have told me that they're planning to see the movie online. One Muslim friend, R___, watched the movie this week and excitedly exclaimed “it is really amazing.” We plan to meet soon to reflect on what impressions the movie made....

Here are some observations based on the movie combined with biblical insights. I pray that God will use these simple steps to explain how “Jesus Christ our Saviour broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life.” (2 Tim. 1:10)

1) I personally was deeply touched seeing the mother's tearful plea to God when she was finally permitted some private time with her son's 'lifeless' body. Note: he was her only child. Her tears reminded me of another heart-wrenching story in the Bible involving a grief stricken mother who had just lost her only son. Jesus said to her, “Don't weep” and then, “filled with compassion,” he raised her son back to life. (Luke 7:11, ff)

2) Speaking of tears, I well remember my own experience of weeping inconsolably when I lost my father to cancer at the tender age of eight. Over the years I've experienced the consolation of God as he wiped away my tears. All of this calls to mind a coming day when the “Lord will wipe away all tears” having destroyed death forever. (Isaiah 25:7-9; Revelation 21:3-4) Interestingly, Scripture contains profound statements about tears and rescuing people from the very jaws of death; for example, the psalmist takes comfort in knowing that God counts his tears. (Psalm 56:8) King David praises the sovereign Lord from whom comes “escape from death.” (Psalm 68:19-20) In the midst of deep grief Martha, the sister of Lazarus, confidently affirms that Jesus is God's Messiah and agrees with Christ's declaration, “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:26-27; cf. 2 Tim. 1:10; Revelation 1:17-18)

3) I intend to also share with R___ my testimony/story as told here:

4) The movie, Breakthrough, concludes by raising a thought provoking question. Soon after John's astonishing recovery, he returns to school and his teacher tells him about her husband's death a year earlier through a severe illness. She explains how John's miracle made her feel perplexed, “Couldn't God have intervened and answered her prayers?” This question is quite understandable! The answer lies in acknowledging God's sovereignty as illustrated by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We read in Daniel 3:16-18 how they refused to be intimidated by King Nebuchadnezzar's threats, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (bold font added for emphasis) Moreover, Jesus reassured Mary at the graveside of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” (John 11:25-26, bold added for emphasis*) Lazarus was miraculously revived (given back his earthly life) but he eventually died because he was still mortal. However, God's promise is true: He will one day cloth Lazarus (and all who believe in Jesus) with an immortal body that is imperishable. As it is written,

"What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:50-57)

In conclusion, the various kinds of scenarios for engaging people in heart-warming, if thought provoking, conversations prompted by the movie Breakthrough are almost endless. May the Spirit inspire and show each of us how we may effectively point people to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour – the one who overcame death by rising triumphantly from the grave and promises to give eternal life to anyone who truly repents and believes in him.

All Bible quotes are taken from the New Living Translation unless otherwise indicated.

If you wish to share any experiences (or questions) as prompted by reading this article I would love to hear from you. Write to me here:

About Loving Muslims Together

Loving Muslims Together exists because God’s love, demonstrated through Jesus Christ, is for Muslims. We function as local networks across Canada. We work to connect people and churches to opportunities, training and resources to help them build bridges to their Muslim neighbours, living out God’s love in word and deed.

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No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion.

Nelson Mandela

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. And your neighbor as yourself.