Peter began to say to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Mark 10:28-31)
Don’t you love Peter? Peter often puts himself into a position where he asks the “hard” questions. Today’s scripture is a good example.
Right after a wealthy young man refused to follow Jesus, Peter, somewhat crudely wanted to know what he and the other disciples would get out of it since they had freely accepted Jesus’ offer to follow him unconditionally. He was well aware of what they were giving up to follow Jesus and he thought he had a sense of that what they would gain would be far greater than the huge cost they had paid, but after Jesus’ words about the eye of needle he wanted some reassurance.
Jesus spoke with utter honesty: Those who left all for him would receive a hundred times more now, even in this life, as well as unending life in the age to come. But Jesus’ disciples can expect opposition and persecution from those who are opposed to Jesus Christ and his Gospel.
Jesus gently reminded Peter, and reminds us, that following him and living his Gospel does not really consist of “giving up” anything. He promises he will fulfill our deepest desires in ways we never imagined, and to a much greater degree—one hundredfold, in fact.
Jesus said first that when we give good things up for him — our loved ones, our material blessings and property — for him we’ll gain back much more in this life in terms of those same things. Many times, when Jesus asks us to give up something, he doesn’t intend to strip us from it but to detach us from it so that we may relate to it in a way far more united to him.
For example, a wife begins to love Jesus more and serve him above all other goods, it doesn’t mean that she will love her husband less, but more and better. That’s the first thing Jesus says. There’s a cost but there’s also a reward in this world, an intensification of the very goods we thought we were leaving behind.
But Jesus also warns that with that multiplication of the blessings we were prepared to leave behind for Jesus, he also foretells the blessing of the Cross. He says we’ll receive the blessings “with persecutions.” Persecution is always part of the Christian life. Just as they persecuted Jesus, they’ll persecute us. Standing apart from the crowd, walking away from evil talk, not accepting any human “god” but only Jesus will mark us. We are different from the world. That’s the way of the Christian.
Jesus says finally that we will receive eternal life in the age to come. When we detach ourselves from possessions and persons, he makes it possible for us to do the impossible with God’s help, to have God thread us through the eye of the needle into eternity. That’s the great desire of us all, to live forever in happiness with God, and Jesus today promises that that will occur when we are willing to pay the price of the kingdom, to sell all that we have to obtain that pearl of great price.
These words of Jesus are meant to remind us that our relationship to God and our hope for eternal life do not depend on our own accomplishments or achievements. They depend only upon our ability to detach ourselves from all that detracts from him.
No earthly good or possession can rival the joy and bliss of knowing God and the peace and unity he grants to his disciples. The Lord Jesus wants to fill our hearts with the vision of the heavenly kingdom – a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, I want to follow you as your disciple and to love you wholeheartedly with all that I have. Fill my heart with faith, hope, and love that I may always find peace and joy in your presence.”
Christ makes it plain as he comes to the end of this Gospel passage that an eternal reward awaits those who sacrifice for the Kingdom. This is so affirming, so full of hope! But he also warned his disciples, and warns us now, not to become too sure of ourselves. We are not to be “first” in proclaiming how we have given up our worldly attachments; rather, we must humbly and lovingly live this detachment on earth, hopeful that our God who sees in secret (Matthew 6:4) fulfills his promise for such souls: a place at the heavenly banquet.