Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” – Matthew 19:27
“What shall we have?” This seems like a juvenile question for Peter to ask. Peter was called by Jesus to preach the gospel of the Kingdom and save souls from the fires of Hell. This seems like a worthy enough profession that one would not need to be concerned over the rewards that might come. When I first read this, I was sure Peter would be rebuked by Jesus for such a question. But he wasn’t. Jesus didn’t rebuke him at all. Instead He promised them a great reward, namely that he and his fellow disciples would sit as judges for the 12 tribes of Israel in His coming Kingdom. Jesus then continued the promise of reward to everyone that would leave the things of the world for His Kingdom’s sake:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. – Jesus (Matthew 19:29
It’s important for us to understand and remember the rewards that God has promised to those who faithfully do His work. Often, in the world, we see the prosperity of the wicked; we see those who pursue earthly things acquire lands, build houses, buy cars and boats, and live in pleasure. Sometimes we can become disheartened doing the right thing. Is it worth living this way? Serving God does not seem to reap the dividends that those of the world partake of.
The man who wrote Psalm 73 felt this way. He observed how the wicked would prosper. He became envious of the worldly people around him who had ‘more than a heart could wish.’ He moaned, ‘Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain!’ His life was hard, but those who disregarded God were doing well. He was trying his best to be faithful to God, but it didn’t seem to be doing him any real good. This really bothered him. He couldn’t understand it. It brought him to a place of deep pain. That was, until he went into the sanctuary of God; ‘then,’ he said, ‘I understood their end.’
Going into the sanctuary of God helped this man to look at things from a different perspective–from an eternal perspective. We believe and know that this life is not all there is, but sometimes the day to day grind keeps us from remembering this. The world trods on day after day. The younger a person is, the more they will feel like this will go on forever. Most will acknowledge that an end to life on earth will come, but to many it’s not a serious thing. It’s far off for them. It’s out of mind.
But this is not the way we should be! The bible refers to us a pilgrims, and strangers. We are like the people of Israel when they were living in Egypt. Egypt wasn’t their home. They weren’t staying there forever. They had a promise of a land flowing with milk and honey, a land with houses they did not build and vineyards that they did not plant. We too are waiting for such a land. For Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” That is the place our eyes should be on.
Jesus wanted Peter, and all of us, to ever be mindful of these things.
Looking back at our title text, we see Peter asking what he and the other disciples would receive for following him. He asked this just after Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler. Do you remember what Jesus said to him?
“Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” – Jesus (Matthew 19:21)
Peter had listened carefully to this. Notice that Jesus didn’t just command the rich young ruler to forsake all and follow Him, but He also promised him a reward: “you shall have treasure in heaven.” Peter’s response was, “What about us? We have left all to follow you. What will we receive?” Jesus was not hesitant to tell them what their reward would be. He wanted to be sure that EVERYONE knew what their rewards would be. Keeping our eyes on the reward is what keeps us running.
Do you remember Moses? how he was raised in luxury? One day he decided to leave that life of luxury, and to suffer reproach with his people. Why in the world would he do that? The bible says that it was because ‘looked to the reward’ (Heb 11:26).
Do you remember Paul? how he was a leader in his religion, well respected and with a bright worldly future? He left all that to preach the gospel of Jesus, in which he suffered much abuse for many years from hands of his own people, and from the Gentiles. Why would he do that? Because he ran knowing that there was a prize (1 Cor 9:24), and that there was ‘laid up for [him] the crown of righteousness’ (2 Tim 4:8).
Do you remember Jesus? how he was the King of Glory, the Prince of Heaven? He left that to come to this filthy earth. He walked among us, teaching us many things. But ultimately He was to be beaten, whipped, and crucified. Why would He subject Himself to such things? The bible says that it was because of the ‘joy set before Him’ (Heb 12:2)–it was the reward of the many that would be gathered to Him, that would be saved from their sin, and enjoy eternity with Him. His reward is us–and our reward is Him.
Jesus said that where our treasure is, there our heart will also be. Jesus encouraged us to ‘lay up treasure in heaven, where moth and rust does not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal’ (Matthew 6:20-21).
The bible says that eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. God’s Spirit has revealed to us a glimpse of the amazing things He has for us, but we hardly know the half. We do know that a city is prepared for us; a city with streets of gold, unlike anything we’ve ever seen. A city lit to perfection, not by the sun, but by the glory of God. There will be no darkness, neither figuratively, nor literally, but only day, and only light. It will be a place of joy and laughter, with no sorrow, and no pain. No sickness will dwell there, no deformity, and no plague. All those things will be forever done away. There will be no death there. Death will have forever been defeated. No more will we age, lose our eyesight, or our hair. We will forever live in strength and youth. There will be no lack there. No child shall starve, and no person shall have any want. All the saints of days gone by will be there, and all your relatives and friends and ancestors who have died in Christ. It will be the happiest and longest reunion there ever shall be. The wolf and the lamb shall lie down together there, a child shall lead a lion, and young child shall play in a den of asps. NOTHING shall hurt anymore in God’s new world. It will be a glorious time and a glorious place, but this doesn’t describe the half of the great reward that God has for his people.
We must keep our eyes on these things!
What’s in it for us? A lot. A real lot. There’s nothing wrong with thinking this way. It’s the way Jesus told us to think. Look to the reward! Run for the prize! It will help you to endure through the difficult times. These difficult times are preparing you for that reward; God won’t have a spoiled brat. God in His wisdom must send us through this fire, but one day we will be shining as pure gold. Amen!
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