Many of us are familiar with Jesus’s encounter with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22. If you recall, Jesus challenged the young ruler with these words, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21). Much like what we have considered from Luke 9:23, this rich young ruler was faced with the challenge of denying self and taking up his cross, in order to follow Jesus. Sadly, the cost seemed too much for him and “he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22). Jesus then says to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23). Not impossible, but hard; that is, with difficulty. So difficult it can be, that it is likened to trying to put a camel through the eye of a needle.
The question is asked by His disciples, “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25).
Have you ever thought why such a question would be asked? Remember, the setting is a rich young ruler who seems to have upheld the law and earnestly wonders what he lacks (Matthew 19:20). He was not aware that his riches had become his battle field. He was confronted with the age-old question, “Is it worth it?”
With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
The scene now changes from one who leaves distressed, to one who begins to wonder about his own situation. Peter asks, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” (Matthew 19:27). Although the twelve are initially spoken of by Jesus, our attention moves to what Jesus says about all those who leave things to follow Him. Disciples have, and will, leave houses, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, wives, children, lands “for My names sake” (Matthew 19:29). People will make personal sacrifices for Christ. Sometimes those sacrifices will pit family against family or challenge the disciple concerning where his allegiance is (Matthew 10:34-39). The cost of discipleship in this life, can be costly, much like it was for the rich young ruler. There is no better place to see this revealed than Hebrews 11:35-38, where such persecution was encountered for the cause of Christ by those who lost so much, even their own lives. But again, is it worth it?
And everyone who has left…shall receive a hundred fold, and inherit eternal life.
The writer of Hebrews speaks of the “better resurrection” of those who faced such persecution. That is the eternal life that Jesus speaks of in our text today. But Jesus also adds this idea of being blessed “a hundred fold.” Luke says it this way, that those who sacrifice to follow Him will “receive many times more in this present time” (Luke 18:30). Receive what? Be blessed how? Mark talks of “houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands” and yes, “persecutions” (Mark 10:30). I believe this is making reference to the church and the many relationships that we could receive. The point, although challenging to grasp, is simple: It will be worth it, both now and when Jesus comes to bring us home.