Matthew 19:27-30 (NIV) Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
It is true that the twelve had left everything to follow Jesus. There were actually thousands who followed Jesus, but the vast majority of them were occasional followers – they would come and hear Jesus when He was in their area, and when He moved on, they would go back to their jobs and families.
But the twelve were different. Jesus had called them specifically to be with Him full-time. They had left behind their jobs, their families, their whole lives to follow Jesus. Some, maybe even many of them, had felt good about doing that because they believed at the beginning that Jesus would soon take over the reins of the government, and they would be elevated to important positions in His administration. So it seemed like the short-term giving up of financial and familial security would be more than paid back when He was swept into power.
But that scenario was seeming less and less likely. Jesus Himself squashed that dream every time it surfaced, and instead talked about how suffering and death, not a crown or throne, was waiting for Him in Jerusalem.
Jesus had just told the rich young man that if he wanted eternal life he had to sell all of his possessions, give the money to the poor, and then leave everything and follow Jesus. Peter and the twelve had already left all to follow Him, so Peter wondered aloud what they would receive, since state positions seemed to be off the table.
Jesus’ answer pointed far beyond the present time, and even far beyond the present world. Those who had left all to follow Him would indeed receive honor and authority, but it would come at the renewal of all things, when Jesus was recognized as king by the whole world. All that they had left would be repaid; all that they hoped for would come; but they would only receive it in full (along with eternal life) in the fullness of time.
In addition to reassuring themselves that all they had done would not be for nothing, Jesus’ statement should have immediately done away with the competition and infighting that was always going on among them. Their future was more glorious than anything they could imagine, and in that future there would be no upper echelons and no lower. All of them would sit on thrones, all of them would be judges, and all would have eternal life. But the spirit of competition still continued, albeit in less obvious ways, despite Jesus’ closing warning that those who strived to get to the top would find themselves on the bottom.
Father, the future You had in store for these men was spectacular beyond all they could imagine. But it was almost too amazing for them to believe. So they still scrabbled for position instead of simply doing what Jesus called them to do, and trusting Him to ensure that future. Help us to never fall into that same trap. Help us to trust You enough to simply obey, and leave our future in Your hands. Amen.