Peter began to say to Him, "Look, we have left everything and followed You."
I. IS CHRISTIAN SELF-SACRIFICE WORTH WHILE?
1. A question relocatedly asked, by worldlings and by Christians themselves: by the former because they do not comprehend or perceive the things of God, and by the latter from an imperfect experience and an imperfectly matured spiritual consciousness.
2. Reasonably enough. The privation to which Christianity exposes men is sometimes extreme. They are called upon virtually or actually to renounce all things. Peter not to be accused of sordidness-of a desire to "make the best of both worlds." Life and the things of life are precious gifts with which we should not lightly or aimlessly part; and the neophyte in Christian life cannot be expected to have all his aims perfectly spiritual. Christianity is a means of raising men from the carnal to the spiritual, and it does so by gradually spiritualizing the desires and interests of the soul. It is an instinct of our being not to part with a real, tangible good unless in exchange for another of equal or higher value, although not necessarily estimated from a selfish or self-regarding point of view.
3. It is only from the highest point of view and he most advanced experience that this question can be properly and adequately answered. There is, therefore, a Divine fitness in Jesus, our Example, being the Answerer and Judge. Yet out of the most imperfect experience of the Divine life, if that experience be properly interpreted, the answer would still be satisfying and justifying.
II. THE CONSIDERATIONS BY WHICH THIS QUESTION IS DECIDED.
1. The measure of recompense. "A hundredfold:" an estimate not to be literally construed. It is intended to express "overwhelmingly more." "In the preceding verse the connective between the items is or; here it is and. There is great propriety in the exchange, for here the Savior is giving, as it were, an inventory of the Divine fullness of blessing, so far as it is available for the most ample compensation of those who have suffered loss. And there is, besides, in the spiritual sphere of things a kind of mutual involution of blessed relationships; the sum total of them all belongs to every true disciple" (Morison).
2. The manner of it. It is to be correspondent to the things renounced, although not necessarily similar in kind. "With persecutions: an addition that seems strange, but is justified in the experience of the Christian; as that which is lost is gain (cf. Matthew 5:10; Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 3:14). He so that which is endured for Christ's sake is a new occasion and factor of blessedness. Suited to the differing conditions of this life and that which is to come. Here there is variety, objectiveness, material embodiment; there there is one grand reward, subjective, spiritual, viz. eternal life. And the relative position of Christians wilt be wry much altered from that which they occupy here. The honor and blessedness conferred will depend, not upon accident of birth or fortune, but upon intrinsic worth and direct Divine appointment. - M.
Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee.
I. THE SACRIFICE ASKED FOR HERE WAS TO GIVE UP THE WHOLE WORLD AND ITS GOODS; TO GIVE THEM TO THE POOR AND TO FOLLOW CHRIST. Is no one a Christian who does not utterly make it? Christ always asked for sacrifice of life, of self, for God. That is the principle. In this case a special form of the life was asked for, and for a special reason. The sacrifice of wealth was the special form. The special reason was this. Christ was the founder of a new method of religion; He wanted missionaries to propagate it. No one could think of Paul or Xavier or Henry Martyn with great possessions, without a smile at the incongruity. Apostolic work could not be done by a man with ten thousand a year. The special form of the demand was motived by special circumstances. Such a demand was not made of all rich men; it would be contrary to the universal character of His religion, which was to enter into the life of all classes, rich and poor, as a spirit. It would shut out all rich men from Christianity; it would upturn society for no good. In fifty years all the industrious and intelligent would be rich again. It would be wrong; for wealth has its duties, its own ideal of life. The wealthy are bound to keep their wealth, and to use it, but in obedience to the spirit of sacrifice.
II. ALL THIS KIND OF TALK COMES FROM PERSONS BEING FOOLISH ENOUGH TO BIND A SPIRITUAL IDEA INTO ONE SPECIAL FORM. The spirit of sacrifice may express itself in a thousand different ways, even in opposite ways in different men, It may be the giving up of wealth in one man, the taking up its duties in another. One man may sacrifice by leaving those whom he loves, another by remaining at home. Take the principle; do not limit it to one meaning. That is one characteristic of the idea of sacrifice. It cannot be specialized. In one point the special demand made on the rich man is in accord with the whole idea of sacrifice; it is in its absoluteness. It asks us to give up all our selfish life. "It is an impossible demand," say these persons. It was original, and Christ knew it. It did not say, like the moral law — this, do and you shall live, and you can do it. It did say "This ideal life I set before you is far beyond mere conformity with law. It is perfection. You shall not live by doing it completely, but by loving it and labouring towards it. It will transcend eternal endeavour, and thus secure eternal progress. The morality of the law is measurable, it stops at a certain point. The righteousness I put before you is immeasurable, infinite as God." It was a higher method than that of the moralist. It is only by loving and following illimitable ideas that man grows great. Their impossibility is their highest virtue, and awakens the highest virtue; they kindle unfading aspiration. It is better for man to live by than the standard of immorality. I now turn to the question of reward as illustrated by the answer of Christ. It is the custom now to say that we are to live the high life without a single hope of future reward; to hope for it is to set religion on a selfish basis. But there is no selfishness in the doctrine of rewards offered by Christ. His rewards are naturally connected with the acts, following from them and contained in them, as a flower follows from, and is contained in, the seed. The word fruits is better than the word rewards. The fruits are multiplied results. To live, hoping for the reward of a more unselfish life, and becoming more unselfish as one hopes and acts for such a life — is it not too ludicrous to call that a selfish motive? The man who gave up lands, houses, etc., received them tenfold; but not in a way which could serve his selfishness; on the contrary, in a way which increased the spirit of a larger love. It lifted above the narrow circle of an isolated family rote union with mankind. Eternal life is another reward promised by Christ. "He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life." It may co-exist with what the world calls misery — "with persecutions." It cannot be material ease. So far, the element of ease or happiness is excluded. Love doubles itself by loving. Truth in us increases by being true. Mercy, purity, faith, hope, bring forth themselves in multiplied abundance. The sum of them all is a life with God and in God, and that is eternal life, a state of the soul. It cannot be selfish, it puts before man as his highest aim, union with God.
(S. A. Brooke, M. A.)
(E. Bersier, D. D.)I. WHAT IS INVOLVED IN BEING A TRUE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST?
1. Partaking of His spiritual nature — being born again.
2. Resting upon the infinite merit of His atonement as the only ground of acceptance with God.
3. Sitting at His feet as a humble learner.
II. WHAT ARE THE DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST?
4. Intimacy. Not as Peter, who followed afar off.
5. Exclusiveness — Jesus only.
III. WHAT ARE THE REWARDS OF THE FOLLOWER OF CHRIST?
2. Constant access to God.
3. The presence of Christ.
4. Protection in danger.
5. Light in darkness.
6. Salvation here and glory hereafter.
1. He has communion with God and His consolations, which are better than all he has given up; as Caleacius, that Italian marquis who left all for Christ, avowed them; and as Paulinus Nolanus, when his city was taken by the barbarians, prayed thus to God, "Lord, let me not be troubled at the loss of my gold and silver, for Thou art all in all to me." Communion with Jesus Christ is heaven beforehand, the anticipation of glory.
2. God often gives His suffering servants here such supplies of their outward losses, in raising them up other friends and means, as do abundantly outweigh what they have parted with. David was driven from his wife; but gained, in Jonathan, a friend whose love was beyond that of women. So though Naomi lost her husband and children, Boaz, Ruth, and Obed became to her instead of all. The apostles left their houses and household stuff to follow Christ, but then they had the houses of all godly people open to them, and free for them, and happy was that Lydia who could entertain them; so that, having nothing, they yet possessed all things. They left a few friends, but they found far more wherever they came.
3. God commonly exalts His people to the contrary good to that evil they suffer for Him; as Joseph, from being a slave became a ruler; as Christ, who was judged by men, is Judge of all. The first thing that Caius did, after he came to the empire, was to prefer Agrippa, who had been imprisoned for wishing him emperor. The king of Poland sent Zelislaus, his general, who had lost his hand in war, a golden hand instead of it. God is far more liberal to those who serve and suffer for Him. Can any son of Jesse do for us as He can?
(John Trapp.)1. That he does not need man's work in the sense that He must pay wages for it. There is no comparison between what is given; an hundredfold will be returned.
2. That Christian work must be done in the spirit of devotion, not of calculation. Many of the first may work in a wrong spirit, and become last.
3. The reward may not come in this life; the work is spiritual, as are the wages.
(T. M. Lindsay, D. D.)
(H. M. Luckock, D. D.)
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