“What then will there be for us?”

Many have already blogged about this (a God-man in Christ, among others), but I can’t help but share it once more!

Many Christians know Matthew 19:26:

…Jesus said to them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

But probably fewer know the context of the verse: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (v. 24). The rich man “went away sorrowing” because he could not leave his “many possessions” (v. 22). I always saw this as a comparatively straightforward lesson on not loving mammon. What I never paid attention to before was what followed:

Then Peter answered and said to Him, Behold, we have left all and followed You. What then will there be for us?

Peter was perhaps feeling somewhat superior: I can do what he can’t. But he mostly wanted to take the opportunity to make sure that he was going to get what he paid for: So, Lord, what’s my reward for leaving my career in fishing to follow You? Is there an extra little something for leaving my wife? Oh, don’t forget, I’m not exactly living an easy life here. …

Isn’t this just who we are? I have to admit, I wasn’t convinced at first. I thought I knew the worth of following the Lord better than Peter did. Until I read Matthew 20 in new light.

One denarius. That’s your wage — whether you worked all day long starting 9 am or you worked 1 hour starting 5 pm. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t get over how unfair this was to the early starters. But was the householder unrighteous? Did each worker not agree with him for one denarius? And is it not lawful for him to do what he wants with what’s his?

It’s only too “natural” that we should have the “No fair!” reaction. It’s wired in us: live in a commercial world, think with a commercial mind. Satan, the ruler of this world, is the top merchant, and he has only one system of value: you get what you pay for.

But with what do you pay for something that has no price? The kingdom — the coming age of restoration — is priceless! Do we think we can buy our way in? Do we think paying a little price, leaving a little behind, doing a little good work, is getting us a ticket into God’s eternal kingdom? What an absurd thought! The kingdom is a reward! The Lord gives it to whomever He desires and wills.

How do we get this reward? Not by paying a price — at least not by it alone — but by enjoying grace (see this post). If the rich young man had been able to give up his possessions, it wouldn’t have guaranteed him a spot in the kingdom; it would have freed him from the preoccupation that kept him from enjoying the God with whom all things are possible as grace. If we do pay a price, it’s rightly done — we need to freed from the entanglements and distractions that keep us from enjoying grace!

Think you’ve given up a lot to be a Christian? Here’s a song for you:

When such as we the King can choose,
To share with Him His throne,
‘Tis passing strange that we refuse
To be our Lord’s alone.
O never speak of sacrifice!
A privilege untold
Is to be His at any price,
In Calv’ry’s hosts enrolled.

(Full lyrics & melody here)

The next stanza urges us to “Arise! the holy bargain strike”. There’s a fitting use of commercial jargon! Here’s what then there will be for us:

And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you that you who have followed Me, in the restoration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones… (Matthew 19:28)