Unfortunately, Too Well-"Grounded"
We don’t have all the conversation recorded for us so I am speculating as to what Jesus might really have been thinking when Peter said: “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” (Matthew 19:27).
It wasn’t even the topic of conversation. The rich young man had just left, disappointed that Jesus had asked him to give up the one thing he wasn’t willing to part with. That incident had turned into a discussion about how difficult it was for rich people, dependent on their own resources, to get into heaven. The disciples wondered how it was possible for anyone to be saved and Jesus had told them that all things were possible for God. The subject was an eternal one.
Peter might have been thinking eternally, but I suspect his mind was still on what Jesus had asked the young man to give up in order to follow the Lord. You’d almost think this was a “Judas” question since the treasurer of the group was usually the most concerned about material things.
If Peter was thinking “ground” thoughts, he was about to be as disappointed as the man who had just left. Jesus’ response was: “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (19:28, 29).
This is not a “here-and-now” promise. Sorry about that, Peter.
But what strikes me is what Jesus implies in this statement. Following up on His conversation with the rich man, what Jesus says to His disciples tells us how much discipleship could cost. Jesus probably wouldn’t have taken the rich man’s wealth even if he had been willing to give it. On the other hand, He might have required him to actually turn all his money over to the poor and become an itinerant preacher like all the others. From this statement the Lord could also ask His followers to abandon homes, families, and possessions, for the sake of serving Him. This would be Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 7.
And the return on the investment doesn’t happen in this lifetime.
This is not something we usually mention when we are sharing the Gospel with people. Interestingly, Jesus went right to the heart of that sacrifice with the rich man—and could be accused of scaring him OUT of the kingdom. One size doesn’t fit all in evangelism techniques, but Jesus certainly wouldn’t have gotten a gold star for His evangelism techniques if He had done that today.
Sometimes we get bogged down in “ground” thoughts—hoping that whatever sacrifices we have to make here for the kingdom will have a here-and-now reward. There might be a lesson to be learned from those who blow themselves up (and others, unfortunately) in the hopes of gaining seven virgins in Paradise. None of that is Biblical, of course, and it is interesting to note that there is no mention of what the poor deluded female bombers get since seven virgins are not likely to be of any interest to them! Still, they at least understand that this life is not the end of the story but only the preface—it’s what follows it that counts.
Do we understand that? Are we willing to follow Him even if it costs us everything here?