Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him. Most recently he has been warning about money and wealth – and how it captures the heart and mind to the loss of eternal perspective and the obstacle to considered redemption. Last week we learned that the love of money, as illustrated by the instruction to give it away, exposes the heart and a refusal to follow Jesus. Now the subject is expanded to priorities – to leaving everything in following Jesus.
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, “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. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[a] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:27-30.
1. Standards for Salvation and Discipleship. Now we see both great biblical themes addressed in Jesus’ teaching. The issue of salvation – the rich, young ruler – exposed his heart as seeking worldly issues and not eternity. Though he was a good man, God does not grade on the curve for salvation. It is believing in and receiving Jesus as a recognition of our need for redemption. After all, in earthly standards alone, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle – i.e. totally impossible – than for a rich man (relying on those merits and standards) to enter the kingdom.
2. Impossible Standards Made Possible by God. And the disciples were shocked by this teaching. They had been steeped in the rabbinic school that wealth is a blessing from God and, therefore, an indication of right standing with God. Not true. Quite the opposite. It is maybe the greatest obstacle to considering salvation and devotion to God. But in the middle of the disciples' shock –they were astonished and asked, ‘then who can be saved?’ – Jesus' assurance is – with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. This is again bringing the disciples back to the standards of the Kingdon of God and eternal vs. earthly values and priorities.
3. Cost of Discipleship. Again, greatness in the Kingdon is from the last, not the first, from the child, not the one is high standing, from one who has given away what he or she has, not one who has gathered and collected wealth and riches. And less we miss the point, many who are first shall be last, and many who are last will be first.
Even so, this is a passage not of condemnation or impossibility but of encouragement and a way out! It is salvation as through Jesus, and following Him that we guarantee standing and greatness in the kingdom. The reassurance is there will be justice and rewards in heaven – just based on eternal price tags, not standards we see around us. The first and last references here are as to disciples, rewards in the kingdom, saved but lesser rewards based on life conduct of the disciples who are following Jesus.
(in the Context of David fearing for Saul who would kill him ) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7. These standards are straight out of heaven and from the throne of God, and by which real wealth and standing in the Kingdom is realized.
God’s best to you this week. The theme of reward for work in the Kingdom is continued next week.
Have a great week,