The Rich Young Ruler leaves Jesus is sorrow, “for he was one who owned much property” (Mark 10:22). He could not part with his possessions to gain the treasure offered by Jesus. At this place, Peter speaks of what they had lost – and the Master responds:
28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:28–31 (ESV)
Jesus, in his work of discipleship must transform the way in which Peter – and the others think. Our thoughts too easily fall upon ourselves, our present possessions and position, this current world.
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1–2 (ESV)
How then does Jesus transform Peter and the others? First, Bruce notes the incongruity of the reward:
The first thing which strikes one in reference to these rewards, is the utter disproportion between them and the sacrifices made. The twelve had forsaken fishing-boats and nets, and they were to be rewarded with thrones; and every one that forsakes any thing for the kingdom, no matter what it may be, is promised an hundred-fold in return, in this present life, of the very thing he has renounced, and in the world to come life everlasting.
Jesus promises a hundred-fold reward. Rather than rebuke, Jesus lays out the reward in glowing language. Think of how often Jesus promises reward in exchange for sacrifice:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3–12 (ESV)
And we must note, that Peter learned the same lesson from his Lord:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3–9 (ESV)
Why would this be the model? Could not just God demand of us as slaves? We are in rebellion against him, he has every right to make demands without payment. Who could gainsay his decision? And even if we thought it unjust, what good would it do us to complain? Could our complaints stop God’s demands?
And yet, Jesus here lays out reward as the promise for merely doing what we ought. Jesus could have turned to Peter and replied, Seriously? I am supposed to be impressed? Fishing boats. Rather, the Savior teaches them of himself, his own mercy and grace:
But such words could not have been uttered by Christ’s lips. It was never His way to despise things small in outward bulk, or to disparage services rendered to Himself, as if with a view to diminish His own obligations. He rather loved to make Himself a debtor to His servants, by generously exaggerating the value of their good deeds, and promising to them, as their fit recompense, rewards immeasurably exceeding their claims. So He acted in the present instance. Though the “all” of the disciples was a very little one, He still remembered that it was their all; and with impassioned earnestness, with a “verily” full of tender, grateful feeling, He promised them thrones as if they had been fairly earned!
Although Bruce does not mention the point, there is a kind of rebuke in Jesus’ words. Why would they have doubted his goodness and abundance and joy in giving gifts? But Jesus does not even rebuke them on this ground.
Here are two lessons for practical discipleship: First, always exult and proclaim the unspeakable goodness and generosity of God in Jesus Christ. Our hearts are peevish by nature and complaints come too easily when following our Master. We sound like children complaining for the distance and traffic on their way to Disneyland. We do not serve Jesus for nothing – we serve for the reward (more on that in a bit).
Second, we must be exemplary of the kindness and patience of Jesus. Jesus does not rebuke Peter, but he does train him.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (ESV)
Paul requires patience – even the rebuke of the erring brother. This is not fluke of Paul’s thought, for he repeats it with Timothy:
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:22–26 (ESV)