Theme: An Astonishing Statement
This week’s lessons remind us that no matter how great the persecutions we may be called to endure as Christians, we are promised blessings, both in this age and also in the age to come.
Scripture: Mark 10:29, 30
In the great collection of unexpected and challenging teachings about discipleship by Jesus there is perhaps nothing so utterly unexpected (particularly after our study of the earlier sayings) as Jesus’ words in Mark 10:29, 30. All along Jesus had been telling His listeners that in order to be His disciples they must deny themselves and give over everything they possess. But now He says that if they do that they will nevertheless receive a hundred times as much as what was given up, not merely in some future life, which we might expect, but in this very age—though they would have persecutions. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth . . . no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”
This statement becomes more astonishing as we study it. It is surprising that it speaks of rewards first of all, since there is nothing in the mere notion of discipleship that requires them. (At best we are unprofitable servants.) However, in addition to speaking of rewards (perhaps spiritual rewards would suffice), it speaks specifically of homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, father, children, and fields—and these not in reference to some far-off heavenly realm, but in “this present age.”
Mention of “fields” is most interesting. The other terms can be spiritualized to an extent. When Jesus mentions “homes” He is, I believe, speaking of literal earthly homes, involving family members and houses and furniture and pots and pans and such things. But it might be possible to think instead of a “heavenly home” and thus remove this element from earthly life. The same might be done with brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and children. These might be referring merely to the “family of God” in heaven.
This cannot be done with “fields.” Fields have to do with earth. Thus, the mention of fields alone carries us back to the context, in which earthly possessions are discussed, and warns us about taking any of the other elements of this promise “spiritually.” Most astonishing of all, the disciples were to receive a hundred times as much of these things as they had previously possessed. We remember that even Job received only double his possessions after God restored him to prosperity!
We must exercise some caution at this point, of course. For one thing, nothing in Christ’s teachings would encourage us to think of this in crass materialistic terms, as if Jesus were here merely giving a formula for sure wealth. Even this saying is ludicrous if taken in that way. If this is a formula for wealth, then what we should do is, first, earn all we can (taking years to do it if necessary); second, give up those earnings for Jesus and then, finally, wait for Jesus to multiply the gift by one hundred. That would discourage discipleship rather than promote it. Again, this promise does not necessarily apply to every individual. It is clear that some believers (though not all) are called to poverty. No matter how much they have and give up, they will always have only the most modest means, because that is what God has called them to have. I suppose that most of the disciples were in this category.
Why is Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10:29, 30 said to be unexpected?
How does Dr. Boice explain this passage? How could this view be misunderstood?
Application: Whether God has called you to a life of poverty or of abundance, praise him for his promise to meet all your needs through the Lord Jesus Christ, not just in eternity, but in this life too.