Matthew 19:27
St. Peter's question strikes us as a little low in tone. It often happens that this disciple, who has been exalted as the prince of the apostles, betrays some human weakness. And yet it is nowhere suggested to us in Scripture that all consideration of future rewards are to be suppressed, though certainly Paley's feeble conception of Christianity as morality with the added sanctions of future rewards and punishments revealed in the teaching and confirmed by the miracles of Christ, is far below the New Testament standard. Christ claims our service, and unless enthusiasm for Christ draws us on, mere hopes of payment or fears of penalties will not succeed. But for those who are won to Christ by the purest influences, all innocent motives are needed to assist in the difficult task of maintaining their fidelity. Our Lord, therefore, condescends to encourage us by mentioning some of the rich rewards of self-denying service. It must be borne in mind that these rewards are gracious favours, like school prizes, not wages due and paid on demands of justice. The rewards are both heavenly and earthly.

I. THE HEAVENLY REWARD. This is presented to us in two forms.

1. A glorious throne. The minds of the disciples are full of vague but splendid Messianic dreams, and Jesus approaches them along the lines of their own imaginations. The splendour of the throne will not be enjoyed on earth. Here there is to be sacrifice, toil, poverty, martyrdom. But there will be a throne in the future world. Not only will Christ reign. His apostles will reign with him. Similarly, all Christians are to have a kingly status - to be both "kings and priests." This means more than future joy, a mere elysium of delights; it involves power, honour, responsibility - like the man who had gained ten pounds being appointed to rule over tea cities (Luke 19:17).

2. Eternal life. The first reward was external; it pointed to status, function, honour. The second is wholly internal and personal. It is more than bare existence in the future. It is a new order of life - exalted being, enlarged capacity. To live in the vast ages of eternity, to live really and truly, not to dream forever in an indolent paradise, - this is the exhilarating prospect of the faithful servant of Christ. We do not know what life is as yet. When we die we shall begin to live.

II. THE EARTHLY REWARD. Their reward is to be a great reward on earth. In St. Mark the words, "now in this time," are added (Mark 10:30). He who gives to a generous king will certainly receive back far more than he sacrifices. The difficulty is to see how this can be on earth. Now, we cannot take the words of Christ literally, for no one would wish to have hundreds of fathers and mothers. But as Christ owned kinship with all who do God's will (Matthew 12:50), so may Christians. The Church should be the new family for those who have been cast out of their old home on account of their Christian confession. The pearl of great price, the inward life and joy of pardon and renewal and communion with God, - this is a great possession, and it may be a present possession. It is better to have the peace of God in a life of sacrifice, than houses and acres with a heart in selfish unrest. - W.F.A.







Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?
I. THAT A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST POSSESSES A CHARACTER OF HIGH AND ESSENTIAL IMPORTANCE. TO be a follower of Christ we must —

1. Believe the testimony which the Word of God has given as to His character and office.

2. From this principle of faith emanates all the other elements which compose the Christian character.

3. A public profession of His name, and exertion in His cause. Do you believe, etc.?

II. THAT IN SUSTAINING THIS CHARACTER PAINFUL SACRIFICES MUST FREQUENTLY BE MADE. The disciples, primitive Christians, etc.

1. Remember for whom these sacrifices are to be made.

2. Remember for what these sacrifices are to be made. Are you determined at all costs to follow Christ?

III. THAT OUR PRESENT SACRIFICES IN THE SAVIOUR'S CAUSE SHALL ISSUE IN A GLORIOUS REWARD.

1. Here is an advantage promised as to the present life.

2. As to the life to come. The time and nature of the recompense. What encouragement does this subject hold out to the followers of Christ?

(A. Weston.)

Sketches.
I. The evils they renounce. We must forsake all our sinful practices, ungodly associates, unholy attachments.

II. The example they follow. Christ, as our Teacher, Sovereign, Pattern.

III. The reward they anticipate. Following Christ will secure our personal salvation, our temporal interests and our eternal happiness.

(Sketches.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE ABANDONING THE WORLD THE BETTER TO SERVE CHRIST. What was left?

(1)A home that was dear;

(2)friends of the old time;

(3)a familiar occupation;

(4)the religion of forefathers.

II. THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE ENGAGED IN DUTIES OF CHRISTIAN PROFESSION. It involved

(1)being thrust out of synagogue;

(2)ceaseless combat with the world — opinions, fashions;

(3)arduous labours.

III. THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE'S RECOMPENSE. What shall we have? —

(1)Present peace;

(2)joy of discipleship;

(3)anticipation of sharing in future results of all Christian work;

(4)the final rest and reward.

(J. C. Gray.)

We must understand the requirements of religion; and not over-value the things which we are obliged to give up. Some say "that a Christian must renounce all the world, all its gains, and pleasure." This has been true in the world's history; as in case of Xavier, Wesley, and missionaries. These exceptional cases. Then some people think that if they love Jesus Christ, they must be careful not to love wife and children too much. This is a mistake. God has made the family and cemented it with love. It is not necessary for a man to love God more that he love family less. There is a difference between that sacrifice which brings everything to God, to be regarded as His, and that slavery which dispossesses of all worldly goods and earthly affections in order to appease the heart of the infinite Creator. Love of God intensifies our home affections. So with regard to worldly possessions. A man is not called upon to endanger his working capital, but to consecrate it. The rules of the gospel bend to wealth; and a Christian has a larger expectancy of possessing the good things of this life. But he views himself as the steward of God, and does not allow it to imperil his soul's salvation. Then comes another question: If I am a follower of Christ, what is to be my attitude towards the world's amusements and pleasures. Give up the follies of the world, not its true pleasures. There is a high sense in which a man is to live soberly in Christ Jesus. If any man has a right to the pleasures of the earth, it is His disciple; he has a right to inherit its fruits, blessings. He has the joys of sense, and others much higher and richer in the green pastures. I would like to ask the Christian if he really thinks that he gives up much in following Christ? Our sacrifices have been joys to achieve in faith and love. But there will come a time when the text will have a certain literalness about it, when "there will be no question as to what we leave, but what we are going to find? The man will have to turn his back upon his possessions. All will have forsaken us. He will then fulfil the promise of eternal life. This the final consummation. We shall not then in the eternal sunshine be disposed to think much of what we have given up to follow Christ.

(J. R. Day, D. D.)

This reply of our Lord as furnishing guidance for us in our endeavours to act upon men and persuade them to give heed to religion. It will not do, constituted as men are, to enlarge to them abstractedly on the beauty of holiness and on the satisfaction derivable from a conscience at rest. They will not regard virtue as its own reward. We must admit that religion requires great sacrifices; but we contend that even in this life they are more than counterbalanced by its comforts, and that in the next they will be a thousand-fold recompensed.

I. Take the case of the YOUNG. You are reluctant to lose the pleasures of earth. We do not wish to deprecate these; all your senses are against our arguments. Christ did not tell Peter that his boat and net were worth but little at the most. We admit the extent of the sacrifice. We take the ground of recompense more than equivalent for all renounced. A nobler pursuit; reward more enduring.

II. It is the apparent conflict between duty and interest which causes us in a variety of cases to disobey God and withstand the pleadings of conscience. The conflict is only apparent, as our true interest is always on the side of duty. Here, again, we must magnify the remunerative power of Him in whose cause the sacrifice is made, rather than depreciate the sacrifice itself. But the duty is clear, and the difficulty of discharging it will not excuse its neglect. A man says he must sell his goods on the Sabbath in order to support his family, his interest demands it. But if he follows duty as against apparent interest, we assert that he engages on his side all the aids of Providence, if you cannot be religious but through bankruptcy, let not your name in the Gazette scare you from inscribing it in the Lamb's book of life. We remind you of the inexhaustibleness of God; He is the Proprietor of both worlds. To men who are in danger of being engrossed in business, as well as those who are tempted to swerve from rectitude, we say, dwell on the word " hundred-fold" in our text as suggestive of the Divine fulness and power.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

I. CHRIST IS THE PRE-EMINENT OBJECT AND THE BOUNDLESS SOURCE OF ALL MORAL ATTRACTION AND INFLUENCE.

1. He is the pre-eminent object of moral attraction. He is the centre of all moral power. It is the overpowering force of the sun's attraction that regulates the motion of the planets; it is the overwhelming attraction of the earth that neutralizes the mutual attraction of things upon its surface, and prevents them from inconveniently clinging together. So is Christ the centre of the moral world. As God, He claims our adoration: as Man, our lively affection. He is the realization of every Divine idea. In a gallery of paintings, comprising portraits, allegories, historic scenes, and ideal creations, one grand masterpiece, long concealed, is at length uncovered and disclosed to view. Immediately all others are forsaken; the admiring gaze is directed to this. It is " the attraction," not because of its mere novelty, but because it comprises all the subjects and all the excellences of every other work, and displays them with unrivalled power. He is the way to the Father, and to the soul's everlasting home. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me." A wild country is spread before us, with numerous paths, by-ways, and intersecting roads. Many of these tracks are toilsome, but supposed to lead to the possession of some profit and gain; many are pleasant, but of doubtful issue; many are perilous; many are evidently ways of perdition. But at length a bright "way" appears, and it is seen to lead upwards, and to terminate in a glorious "city of habitation." Shall we not forsake every other way to follow this? He is the fulness of all good. He is all and in all. Is it not great gain to forsake all and to follow Him? He is the friend beloved. When a beloved friend arrives, business and pleasure are alike abandoned, for the joy of his society. Jesus comes, He calls to us; He announces the joyful news of reconciliation with God. Should we not forsake all to follow Him, and to be received into His everlasting friendship? He is the heavenly Bridegroom. The bride forsakes her father's house, her country, her early associates for the bridegroom.

2. He is the boundless source of moral influence. He changes the earthly into the heavenly. No teacher nor doctrine can produce a transformation like this; the all-powerful influence is with Christ alone. If we desire our own true glory, should we not forsake all to follow Him? He changes the corrupt into the spiritual. He raises the spiritually dead into a Divine life. This reminds us that the attraction and influence of the Lord Jesus Christ can only be savingly experienced through the instrumentality of faith.

II. To FORSAKE ALL AND TO FOLLOW CHRIST IS ALIKE OUR INDISPENSABLE DUTY AND OUR TRUE HAPPINESS.

1. It is our indispensable duty to forsake all and to follow Christ. It is not by abstract considerations we usually judge of duty, but by contemplating actual and living relations. Now, if we contemplate the actual relations Christ sustains to us, and of the reality of which we are assured by Divine testimony, the entireness of His claims will become immediately evident. As the Son of God, He claims supreme homage and entire obedience: as Mediator, He has a peculiar claim, because we are the subjects of His all-prevailing intercession. This imperative duty is sustained by every conceivable motive; it is also indispensable. It is the divinely appointed condition of salvation. We must look at the awful alternative. We are all under the most sacred obligation to hold the possession of earthly things in subservience to the service of Christ.

2. It is our true happiness to forsake all to follow Christ. "What shall we have therefore?" Is it not true happiness to derive present and everlasting joy in the contemplation of so pre-eminent an object of love; to experience the transforming influence of His Spirit and truth changing us into His likeness; and to enter into living and effectual relation with Him, all whose names are significant of unlimited blessing? "What shall we have therefore?" Exemption from eternal death, and the inheritance of everlasting life. The truth of Christ. The fellowship of the saints. An infinite compensation; a blissful result of self-denial. "And the last shall be first." As the first in their own and in the world's esteem should be really the last, so the last shall be first. The last in worldly esteem. The last in social conditions — Christians are required to avoid all vain display and ostentation. The last in their own esteem. "What things were gain to them, these they counted loss for Christ."

(J. T. Barker.)What called forth this question? An event had just taken place which had made a deep impression on the minds of the disciples.

I. LET US CONSIDER THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THOSE WORDS WERE UTTERED BY ST. PETER. There are some who always seem to delight in putting a bad construction upon the actions and words of God's saints. We have no sympathy with such men. They judge others by their own standard and motives. But in the words of the text we find no instance of human infirmity. Whatever St. Peter's faults may have been, certainly he was the last man to think of payment for service, or of reward. He was impetuous, affectionate, generous. .Nor, again, can we admit that there was something vain-glorious in the words. What, then, led St. Peter to say, "What shall we have therefore?" It was thankfulness. He was thrilled with gratitude at the thought of the grace which had enabled him to do what others had not done. But further, instead of pride there was, we believe, humility in this utterance. It was as much as to say, "What condescension that thou hast chosen us, such as we are, for so great a vocation!" They felt the greatness of the love which had called them, and their own unworthiness of the dignity. Let us look at the statements which are made. They are two. Christ had bidden the rich youth to give up all, and St. Peter now says, "'We have done this — we have forsaken all. Yes, it was not much, but it was all, and the sacrifice is to be measured not by the amount which is surrendered, but by the love which prompted it. Again, St. Peter adds, "We have followed Thee." This was the second thing which our Lord demanded of the rich youth. Perfect does not consist in the mere abandonment of external goods. St. Peter was careful to add that they had forsaken all with a definite motive — that of following Christ, and of being like Him in the external conditions of his life. It is not merely world-surrender, but self-surrender which Christ demands. The forsaking is the preliminary of the following. Detachment from the creature is useless unless it leads to attachment to the Creator. Sin consists in two things — the turning away from God, and the turning to the creature. "My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, saith the Lord, the Fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no waters" (Jeremiah 2:13). Holiness, on the other hand, requires a spirit of detachment from visible things, and love for God. They loved Him. It was a progressive love.

II. OUR LORD'S REPLY TO ST. PETER'S QUESTION WAS AN ENCOURAGING ONE. He did not find fault with the question, knowing the purity of motive which prompted it. But He was careful to elevate their thoughts. They should have some great honour, some mysterious union with Christ in His exaltation, as they now had fellowship with Him on earth. Christ is Judge alone. They can have no share in His judiciary authority. In what sense, then, will the Apostles sit with Christ and judge the world? By the judgment of comparison. They will be examples of faithfulness to grace, condemning those thereby who have clung to earthly things and forsaken Christ. And besides this, by the judgment of approbation. They will be Christ's court, His princes, marked out from others by special glory and blessedness as the recompense of their allegiance to Him. Is this honour to be confined to the original disciples? We are not called, as Apostles were, actually to forsake all, and to follow Christ. But all Christians must share their spirit. We must "use this world, as not abusing it" (1 Corinthians 7:31). The outward acts of religion, necessary as they are, will not compensate for a worldly spirit. But the Christian life is no mere negative thing — the quenching of the love of the temporal; it is the following of Christ. Try by meditation to gain a clearer view of our Lord's example. Nor is it a sordid movement of soul to desire to look over the hills of time into the glories of the eternal world. Love, not selfishness, prompts all sacrifice made for Christ. But He who "for the joy which was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2), permits the inquiry of the text when made in the spirit of hope and thankfulness. "What shall we have therefore?" It is not merely happiness, it is blessedness.

(W. H. Hatchings, M. A.)

We must not understand this of an hundredfold in specie, but in value. It is —

1. Joy in the Holy Ghost, peace of conscience, the sense of God's love; so as, with the Apostles, they shall rejoice that the)" are thought worthy to suffer for Christ.

2. Contentment. They shall have a contented frame of spirit with the little that is left to them; though they have not so much to drink as they had, yet they shall have less thirst (Philippians 4:11, 12).

3. God will stir up the hearts of others to supply their wants, and that supply shall be sweeter to them than their abundance was.

4. God sometimes repays them in this life, as He restored Job after his trial to greater riches.

(M. Pool.)

The man who forsakes his possessions and friends for Christ's sake, shall find that Christ will take care that he has "a hundred," i.e., very many others, who will give him the love and help of brothers, wives, and mothers, with far more exceeding sweetness and charity; so that it shall not seem that he has lost his own possessions, but has only laid them down, and in Christ's providence has multiplied them with great usury. For spiritual affections are sweeter than natural ones.

(Lapide.)

This implies —

1. The security of those who are poor for the gospel's sake.

2. The privilege of judging.

3. Dignity and eminence above others.

4. The nearest place to Christ and most perfect union with Him.

5. A principality of grace, happiness, and glory, that inasmuch as they are princes of the kingdom of heaven, they should have the right of judging, and of admitting into it those who are worthy, and excluding the unworthy.

(Lapide.)

He who has left all things begins to possess God; and he who has God for his portion is the possessor of all nature. Instead of lands, he is sufficient to himself, having good fruit which cannot perish. Instead of houses, it is enough for him that there is the habitation of God, and the temple of God, than which nothing can be more precious. For what is more precious than God? That is the portion which no earthly inheritance can equal. What is more magnificent than the celestial host? What more blessed than Divine possession?

( Ambrose.)

If, instead of the perturbation of anger and fury, you weigh the perpetual calmness of the mind; for the torment of anxiety and distraction, the quiet of security; for the fruitless and penal sadness of the world, the fruit of sorrow unto salvation; for the vanity of worldly joy, the richness of spiritual delight: — you will perceive that the recompense of such an exchange is a hundredfold.

( Cassian.)

This is an awakening sentence to the best of men. It was as much as to say to the Apostles, "You have forsaken all and followed Me; but you had need look and consider, from what principle, with what love, and to what end you have done it; you had need keep a watch upon yourselves, and see that you hold on, and that you have no confidence in yourselves. For many that are first in profession, first in the opinion of others, first in their own opinion and confidence, at the Day of Judgment will be found to be last in Mine and My Father's esteem and reckoning; and many who make not so great a noise, nor have so great a name and repute in the world, and who have the lowest and meanest opinion of themselves will be found first and highest in My favour. The Day of Judgment will frustrate many expectations.

(M. Pool.)

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