Thursday

10 November 2016

“[Jesus said,] ‘Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.’” (v. 29)

Psalm: Psalm 45


Background

As Jesus travels to Jerusalem to die, a rich young man has just been challenged to give all his possessions away to the poor in order to have treasure in heaven; he could not do it (Matthew 19:16-22). Jesus then uses the opportunity to teach his disciples about the danger of trusting in riches rather than the sovereignty of God (Matthew 19:23-26). Now Peter responds by pointing out that the disciples have themselves indeed carried out this teaching: they have already left everything behind in order to follow Jesus. And in so doing they have placed themselves under the sovereignty of God. So if as a result they will have treasure in heaven, what exactly does that mean? "What then will we have?" Peter asks (v. 27).

Jesus promises them that the 12 disciples will share in his rule in heaven. When he speaks of them "judging" the tribes (v. 28), he is using the term in the way that it is used in the book of Judges where the emphasis is not on a particular verdict but on the power of the judge to have their verdict accepted because people obey them. Their judgement will, however, be subject to the rule of the Son of Man who will be king of kings (and judge of judges).

In Mark's version of this story (Mark 10:28-31) all who have renounced goods and family for his sake will receive a hundredfold in this life - and, by the way, persecutions! - and eternal life in heaven. Matthew conveniently omits the persecutions, and emphasises that the hundredfold (or 'manyfold' according to some manuscripts) will only be received after the Son of Man enters into glory.

Verse 30 is a regular saying of Jesus, which we also find elsewhere (Matthew 20:16, in a better context; and a similar saying at Matthew 23:12). Here it tells the disciples that though they now feel among the last, they will become first in the kingdom.


To Ponder

  • Should people only follow Jesus because they hope to be rewarded in the future?
  • What difference does it make to you - if at all - whether you will receive your reward on earth or only in heaven?
  • If you were one of the disciples ruling over God's people, how would your obedience to Christ make you exercise that power? And if you currently have power over people (as a manager or teacher or minister perhaps?) how does your current obedience to Christ affect your exercise of your power?
  • Judas was also promised a throne - did he lose it? Is God's grace limited? Can what has been promised to any follower of Jesus be lost by subsequent behaviour?


Bible notes author: The Revd Dr Neil Cockling

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