“Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?’ [Jesus replied]... ‘And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life’.”
~Matthew 19:27, 29 (NRSV)
At this part of Matthew’s gospel we enter territory, for the disciples, akin to that of John 6:60-68, where Jesus’ message of the kingdom and eternal life begins to stretch the disciples’ faith. The teaching is difficult; the flesh cannot receive it, only the spirit.
Many, many people in the world may feel disposed to seek the message of eternal life, to hear it, and then to walk away—the true message will be too hard for many, including the rich young man of Matthew 19:16-22; weighed down by his many possessions.
Though the Holy Bible is the most bought document in the planet’s history, the life-saving message of the gospel is not, and may never be, on the true bestsellers list; it is too truthful; it reveals humanity’s darkness to us—much too many people cannot handle such truth.
No Cheap Grace
It comes as somewhat of a surprise to all of us, and the Lord is known to surprise the most mature of believer as an infant, that the costs of entry to the kingdom—as they are intermittently required of us—are soul-absorbing.
What Jesus achieved on the cross was no cheap sacrifice—and the depth of sacrifice implicit of going to the cross is to be exemplified by each and their own. Jesus himself says, “... whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
This is a hard word. Who really relishes the opportunity to behold and carry their cross? Jesus did by example, so we can, too. And we, to follow Jesus’ example, will need to be ready to be crucified to our crosses. That is an awesome thought in the worst way imaginable.
Yet, the cost of belief is minuscule in comparison with the unremitting glory that is still ahead.
Considering The Matter Of Glory
It is a fact that what happens at and after death we have all our lives to ponder. Indeed, many of those we loved have traversed the life divide—they sit on the other side. What did they go through and where are they now and what is it like for them?—these, fairly, may be our questions.
In trusting the gospel message, and choosing to be discipled by the Holy Spirit, inclusive of heavy cost—which is to choose, continually, the kingdom imperative over the worldly imperative—we stand to receive our crowns of glory. True faith may not be an easy thing, but such costs pale into insignificance compared with the riches in glory.
Even here we are likely to gain some understanding of the blessings remitted in heaven connected with the costs of true belief.
Many things we will never understand about God, life, and faith—particularly in the realm of suffering and injustice in this world. One thing we should always trust, however, is the promise of incomprehensible reward at the believer’s final destination: Heaven—splendour one hundredfold more than we can imagine.
In comparison with what is asked of us, via our faith, those heavenly rewards are unjust to the side of God. We get far more than we deserve.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.