So, What’s In It For Me?

Matthew 19:27-30
27Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”
28Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
30But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Discerning what motivates us and others is an interesting, challenging, and probably futile practice we all entertain from time to time. And honestly, it is one of my hot buttons. You can’t imagine how many times, in my role as a pastor’s wife, others have determined that they know my motivations and act according to their assumptions rather than discovering the truth. It makes me crazy. You would think those feelings would build within me a decision to not do that to others; but I probably do even though I try not to.

Jesus has just ended a conversation with a wealthy man who wants to earn his way into the Kingdom of God. The Disciples have witnessed this interaction and now respond to what they have seen. Of course, they are a little nervous. If this rich guy who claims he has kept the commandments can’t make it in what are they to do? How will anyone get through the gate of Heaven? Jesus continues His lesson about weakness and greatness, equating the two, and declares that no one enters the Kingdom of God on his own. It requires God Himself to, through the atoning work of Christ, to get us in. There is no other way.

Peter steps up (again) to speak for the group. He points out that he and the other eleven guys have indeed given up everything to follow Jesus. So – what will we get for that? It’s a logical question. Jesus then makes a rather stunning promise. These Twelve will sit on thrones and judge with Jesus on the Last Day! Jesus also promises that anyone who has left all to follow Him will receive eternal life. If you were one of the Twelve, these words would have come as pretty good news, right? I was motivated to follow Jesus and now look – I’m going to be rewarded!

Finally, Jesus puts it all into perspective once again. The entirety of chapters 18 and 19 have been about those who are weak (vulnerable and humble) being recognized as the greatest in the Kingdom of God. Verse 30 spells it out: “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” In the next few verses, Jesus tells another parable that makes that point with even greater clarity (but that’s the study for next time). Who knows what originally motivated the disciples to give up their lives and follow Jesus. One must assume based on the rest of Scripture that it was the moving of the Holy Spirit for He is the One who brings all believers to faith. The disciples certainly didn’t leave their lives behind because of the promise of a throne on the Last Day for at the time of their calling they knew nothing about that gift. No, they are motivated by God Himself just as we all are and therein lies yet another proof of the grace of our Holy God.