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Renouncing and Reward


Peter asked Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” (Mt 19:27). The apostles had left family, profession, and possessions to follow Jesus unconditionally. All of them, except John, were married and had family responsibilities. When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, they were fishing on the shore of Galilee. “At once they left their nets and followed him” (Mt 4:20). James and John “were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him” (Mt 4:21-22). Jesus called Matthew, who was sitting at the customs post, collecting taxes for the Romans. When Jesus asked him to follow him, “he got up and followed him” (Mt 9:9), leaving everything behind. Similar was the case with the other apostles as well.

Family and friends of the apostles might have raised questions on their merit for such a sacrifice to follow Jesus. It is natural for all to expect an incentive for their activities. In the Book of Job, Satan asked God, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?” (Job 1:9) When God claimed Job was unlike all other people on earth “blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil” (Jon 1:8), Satan argued it was only because God blessed him with a big family, divine protection, blessing for his works, and huge livestock (Job 1:10). Satan continued, “But now put forth your hand and touch all that he has, and surely he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:11). So, people are naturally benefit-oriented in their activities. Whether rich or poor, all are aiming at gaining prosperity.

The apostles did not know where Jesus was heading. They could not see Jesus establishing an earthly kingdom. While gaining admirers, he faced much opposition and life threats from the Jewish elites. He predicted his own passion and death at the hands of the religious authorities as part of his mission. So, the apostles were confused, especially when they heard it was impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.

The apostles thought of their destiny. What compensation or reward would they get for giving up everything and accompanying Jesus? When was he going to establish his kingdom? Would they be losers in following him? What would be their role in the new kingdom? It was natural for the apostles to have these questions arising in their minds.

Peter and others expected preferential treatment from God for giving up everything and following Jesus. Unlike the rich young man who left Jesus with disappointment because of his unwillingness to share his riches with the poor, the apostles had implemented what Jesus preached by relying not on wealth but on Jesus. Though they were not as wealthy as the rich young man, they had given up all they had, including their family, houses, job, and the utensils or implements they used for work. They dedicated their time and talents fully to Jesus. So, they expected a better position in his kingdom.

Jesus answered Peter, “Listen to my words: at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his throne in glory, you who have followed me will yourselves sit on twelve thrones to rule the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt 19:28).


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