by Zane Hodges, from Grace in Eclipse
“Then Peter began to say to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed you.'” Mark 10:28
Matthew tells us that Peter also added:
“Therefore what shall we have?” Matt 19:27
It was an appropriate question. After all, Jesus had offered the rich young ruler treasure in heaven if he left all. Was this promise applicable to the disciples as well?
No doubt there is a temptation to censure Peter for greed. But why? Already the disciples had been specifically taught to store up eternal wealth (Matt 6:19-21; Luke 12:32-34). It is not selfish to take an interest in matters Jesus Himself has told us to be concerned about. It is not wrong to seek what He tells us to seek.
It is wrong not to seek. It is, in fact, a a sin to refuse to lay up heavenly treasure when we are explicitly commanded to do so. Moreover, the effects on our hearts of not doing it will be calamitous. For where our treasures are, there our hearts will be also.
The rich young ruler’s heart was on earth. The thought of losing his earthly treasures saddened him. But Peter and the other disciples had abandoned everything for Jesus. It was only natural that they should be curious about their heavenly reward.
Our Lord’s answer to this query is memorable:
Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30)
The answer was rich, exciting, and sobering. There were compensations to be experienced in the present age—along with its troubles— and there was compensation in the age to come as well…
But if obedience to Jesus enriched a man’s temporal lot it equally enriched his eternal one. And here the reward was…”eternal life.”
Yes, a reward. Plainly presented as such. But a reward belonging to the future age, not to the present one.
And thus Jewish theology was right—in part. Eternal life would be awarded meritoriously in a future day. What that theology failed to perceive was that, for such a reward to be within man’s reach, eternal life must first be received as a gift.
Eternal life is no static entity, no mere fixed and unchanging object. Eternal life is the very life of God, and as such its potentials are without limit. Had not Jesus affirmed:
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, emphasis added).
No doubt Jesus was speaking in this verse about life in the resurrection experience. That experience would indeed be more abundant simply because resurrection life is necessarily fuller than any present experience. Therefore the Gospel of John emphasizes the connection between life now and the coming resurrection (John 6:39-40; 11:25-26).
The possibilities of such a future life are as infinite as the life itself. But to receive enrichment in that future life as a reward, one must first obtain it as a gift by faith in Jesus.