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"What Shall We Have Therefore?"
The story continues after the nobleman left, "sorrowful: for he had great possessions." We read in Matthew's account about this same event: "Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?" (Matt. 19:27) They had all watched this nobleman make his great refusal. Then Peter, sizing up the situation, began to realize that they had done what this nobleman had refused to do. They had left all their earthly business and now fully followed the Master. Peter was a deep thinker. On another occasion Jesus had asked them, "Who do men say that I the Son of man am?" (Matt. 16:13) He got many different answers, none of which were correct. Then Jesus asked the most penetrating question of them. "Whom say ye that I am?" (Matt. 16:15) Peter amazed our Lord with the correct answer. He said, "Thou art the Christ [Anointed One], the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). Jesus complimented Peter, realizing that God had revealed this to him.
Peter's question, "What shall we have therefore?" implies they really did not know what they would receive. They had enlisted without any promise of heaven. They were fully committed disciples before knowing what would become of them or what reward they would have.
Jesus' words came as a grand revelation that day. He said: "Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life" (Matt. 19:28-29). The "thrones" and "everlasting life" would wait until the time of the "regeneration." We know the apostles never sat on thrones in their life-time.
"An Hundredfold Blessing"
The disciples learned they would receive what the nobleman wanted, "eternal life," but also something else-"an hundredfold blessing." It is difficult to forsake "houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children." Not that a Christian is to desert his family and responsibilities. The oriental way of speaking here meant his disciples had placed Christ above all others. Christ must be ranked above one's family for a Christian to receive the "hundredfold blessing." This blessing may begin in the present life.
The Christian receives abundant blessings while employed in the Master's service. A hundredfold return is an excellent return. Imagine if the stock market promised a "hundredfold" return, people would be in a frenzy to secure such stock. The blessings that the Christian now receives come not in monetary gain, but are, in reality, spiritual blessings of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance-not in big demand these days. Please notice that this "hundredfold" blessing comes in return for a Christian's sacrifice. Jesus also promised his disciples "eternal life" in the "regeneration." This, too, comes as a result of taking their "cross" and following Jesus. These two lessons of Jesus linked blessings to works.
"Isn't grace supposed to be free?" Yes, grace is always something over and beyond what justice demands. Grace is God's unmerited love and favor. Christ's sacrifice and blood atonement were provided to rescue the human race from the judgment standing against it. No work or price of ours could lift this divine judgment. It was provided totally by grace. Christ's ransom sacrifice brings remission of sin, or justification. If we once receive justification, the judgment of death is lifted from us and God can begin dealing with us as sons. This is wonderful grace.
The purpose of God in dealing with his people is to lift them up to share his holiness. Everlasting life in God's kingdom, whether on earth or in heaven, will require character. Christ gives his disciples the grace of "justification" or forgiveness of sin, but he does not bestow character carte blanche. Character is something that the Christian has to develop. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). The Christian is exhorted to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12, 13).
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