Summary of passage: Jesus spoke to his disciples, saying it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven and the disciples were astonished at this news and asked Jesus then who can be saved. Jesus said only with God can you be saved. Peter says they have left everything to follow him so what will there be for them.
Jesus says they will sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel when he comes again and everyone who has believed in him will receive eternal life. Many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first.
3a) Personal Question. My answer: Many people put achieving earthly success over Godly success and strive their whole lives to achieve things that will not matter in heaven and that they cannot take with them. It is harder for them to enter heaven because they are unwilling to give up their stuff to follow Jesus. It’s easier to give up less to follow him. But when you think you have a lot to lose, you hesitate, and ultimately, like the young man here, you turn your back on Jesus himself.
b) Personal Question. My answer: God can do all things, even what we think is impossible. He can overcome hard hearts and if we believe and trust in Him to do so, He will.
Luke’s version of this story puts it best: ”What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
4a) They will receive 100 times as much as they have given up. This may not always be in the material sense but in a spiritual sense.
b) Eternal life.
5a) Those who leave something or someone for him will receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields–and with them, persecutions) and eternal life in the age to come.
b) Romans 8:17-18: We are heirs of God and Christ and we will share in his sufferings so we may share in his glory.
2 Timothy 3:12: ”Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”
1 Peter 2:19-21: We were called to suffer and endure unjust suffering for doing God’s will because Christ suffered for us, leaving us his example to follow.
1 Peter 4:12-13: Peter tells us it is a privilege and a joy to suffer for Christ so that we may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. Painful trials should not be a surprise but an expectancy. We should praise God for them because we bear them for Christ.
6) We are allowed to share in His glory. We know we will have eternal life. We will receive 100 times as much which could be in wealth, or in peace, or in joy or in contentment for doing His will. Knowing you are doing His work makes life easier to get through. You always have Him to cling to. And you always have the desire to keep moving forward when everything else is collapsing around you.
Conclusions: I like the contrast with the glory and the suffering. So many churches today just focus on the glory part and ignore the fact we are to suffer as well. I believe this is important, especially with the younger generation who is growing up with a more and more entitlement attitude which is only setting them up for failure for when they do suffer hardships they will not know where to turn.
End Notes: If you think about it, those who live in today’s world are richer than the man who wouldn’t give up his riches.
Riches foster independence and self-reliance. It’s harder to rely on God say for example for food if you have it abundantly. They also hamper our desire for something else if we have everything we need.
The disciples were shocked at Jesus’ words because in ancient times, riches were a sign of God’s blessings for the Jews. Think of Abraham and Isaac. David and Solomon. God blessed them to the point they were the richest men in their known world. Jacob was in fact the second-most powerful and richest man in the entire world. Riches usually meant you relied on God and thanked Him for your blessings. They were an outward sign of God’s blessings.
So the disciples were confused. If the rich men weren’t saved and they were supposed to be the most Godly, then who can be saved? Think of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They were all moderately wealthy.
I personally believe this has changed over time. It was true in Abraham’s time that God used wealth as a sign of favor–to show other peoples that God is the One, True God and you’d better not mess with Him or His people. As time has passed and more and more people know God, this has become unnecessary and in fact culture has twisted this and used wealth for mere pleasure rather than for God’s glory and it has become a barrier to God instead of a blessing from God. To this is what Jesus is speaking.
Still, it is hard for people 2000 years ago who grew up with wealth being a sign of God’s blessings to accept. Because it was still probably partially true to some extent. It takes time for men’s minds and cultures to change beliefs.
Yet, still, “Everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48 and Luke 19:26, Jesus repeats the idea: ”To everyone who has, more will be given.”
I still think God blesses those who are His with wealth as well. Wealth can be material or spiritual or in other ways. Yet, He expects much from those He blesses. As He should and as we should expect from ourselves.
Peter, again, speaks without thinking. He selfishly wants to know what he will get for following Jesus. As if eternal salvation and forgiveness of our sins and righteousness with God WEREN’T enough!
Jesus says our rewards in heaven will not be based on our perceived status here on earth. If you are first in this society, you will be last and vice versa. Basically, what man rewards may not be what God rewards. God is the ultimate judge of success, not man.