Theme: Encouragement to Serve
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
Although this text should not be misused to teach that every Christian is going to be well-off, nevertheless, the text is a great promise, and it does have to do with earthly relationships and material possessions. At the least, it means that the true follower of Christ will not lack for any good thing (“My cup overflows,” Ps. 23:6) and that, in normal circumstances, a Christian will be blessed with earthly goods abundantly. Personally I am convinced that Jesus gives us every good that He can possibly give us without rendering us unfit for His work or destroying our souls. The reason why many of us do not have more is that the Lord knows we would misuse it.
In spite of these obvious qualifications, Christ’s promise of homes, family, and fields is an encouragement to those willing to serve Him. Basically it tells us that God is good and that He is no man’s debtor. Sometimes the idea that “God is no man’s debtor” has been used wrongly to try to control God, as it were. People have suggested that if we do so-and-so, then God is obliged to do so-and-so for us. That is manipulative; the text does not support this view. However, properly received, it does encourage us to serve God in Christ’s service, knowing that we will be blessed for it. There are several important grounds for this encouragement.
1. Greater blessings. One thing that keeps many from following Jesus—the rich young ruler is an example—is the feeling that the cost of following Him is too high. We would have to give up “too much.” Mark 10:29, 30 teaches that the blessings to be found in Christ’s service are greater than the blessings we could have without it. The rich young man was unwilling to give up his possessions. He loved them more than Jesus, and he could not be saved without loving God with all his heart and soul and mind and strength.
However, if he had followed Christ, turning his back on his wealth, what this text clearly teaches is that Jesus would have blessed him a hundred times over with a home, family, and lands. He could not be certain of the form Christ’s blessing would take. He might have been called to a life of itinerant ministry, as Paul was called. But whatever the form of his service, the blessings he would receive in that service (even great material possessions) would be many times greater than anything he could have given up.
One must address Christians and not unbelievers to get a true perspective on this promise. Abraham, were you cheated by Jesus when you forsook everything to follow Him? You left the good land of Ur. You left family, home, and fields to become a pilgrim in the earth. Wasn’t that a bad bargain? Weren’t you cheated here, regardless of what may or may not be true in heaven?
Abraham answers, “Cheated? How could I possibly be cheated? It is true that I left houses and family and land to follow God’s call, but I received a hundred times more than ever I gave up. God gave me a great family, so much so that on one occasion I was able to gather 318 trained men born in my own household to go and fight against the kings of the east commanded by Kedorlaomer, king of Elam. And, of course, I became the father of that great family of God which even now numbers as many persons as grains of sand on the seashore or the stars of heaven. So far as land is concerned, it is true that I only owned one small parcel of land, the land containing the cave where I buried Sarah. But during my day I roamed over the entire land of Canaan as if it were mine, and in time it was all given to my descendants forever.”
What does this passage encourage Christians to do?
Why do people conclude that the cost of following Jesus is too high? What are they failing to take into account?
Reflection: From your own experience, what blessings have you received in following Christ in exchange for what you needed to give up in order to be his disciple?