And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.” And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18:24-30 NASB)
Sometimes, I find that promises in Scripture, from Jesus Himself even, are hard to swallow. Will I really gain much more than I sacrifice in this life? I leave my family, goods, and whatnot for the Kingdom of God and I will gain many times as much at this time? Seriously? I find that strangely at odds with themes we covered prior. What about the cost of discipleship? So, I can safely cast away everything now, and have much more at this time not just eternal life in the age to come?
Yes, I doubt. I do. I’m not apologetic about it, I doubt. I read the Hebrew Scriptures about how the people followed God, and then fell away. I see how they were oppressed and cried out and God delivered. I think of God watching them worship after deliverance, only to have them fall away again, be oppressed, and delivered all over again. It’s the “Judges Cycle”, but repeated in Samuel and Kings as well. It happens when the rain doesn’t fall, the crops aren’t ripening, and the grapes and olives fail. Their neighbors seem fine and worship another god, some storm god, and their crops look good. So the people hedge their bets and worship both. I’ve read it dozens of times, and I’ve seen the pattern in my own culture, sometimes even in my own life.
The problem with which I wrestle is what if I don’t receive many times more? What if God’s promise doesn’t come about? Peter is crucified upside down, not in a bigger house with a bigger family. John dies after somehow surviving Patmos with criminals. The other ten are all killed for their faith, James almost immediately. Where was the “many times more at this time” that Jesus promised? I don’t see that but I do see the faithfulness of the ones Jesus told that to. They heard that, invested, but didn’t record how they experienced that blessing at that time. We hear later they all died. Is it a “Role Call of Faith” sort of thing where they all died without seeing what was promised? Why even put that tidbit in there about “at this time” in the first place?
I struggle with it. I read it, but I struggle with believing it. I suppose the answer is to invest and learn what it really means. Perhaps I need to sacrifice to understand what exactly Jesus meant by gaining much more at this time. I don’t see it, but trust Him. I don’t read about how the disciples and followers gained much more of the same sort of thing, but so what? Do it anyway. They did. And they still recorded this promise, do you get that? This promise of Jesus was heard by all three sources used by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And they heard it and the Gospel writers recorded it. And yet no one felt compelled to explain how it was true in the lives of the disciples. It was supposed to be obvious without the need for explanation.
So, I don’t get it, but there’s so much that goes into that category. I don’t really understand how the promise was fulfilled in the life of Peter, James, John, Paul, or the others. I don’t understand, but I won’t either until I invest, and wait for the return on that investment from my Master. And so here I go…
What’s your view through this knothole? What do you learn from this assurance from Jesus that it’s safe to invest everything with Him and for His Kingdom?