Then Peter said in reply, "Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?" (Matthew 19:27)
It sounds to me like Peter is asking, "Hey, what's in it for us?" When Jesus came calling, Peter and the others immediately dropped what they were doing and turned away from family and friends and livelihoods and went off with Jesus. They gave up much. They sacrificed much. Now Peter wants to know, "Hey, what's in it for us?"
I'm disappointed with Jesus' response here in Matthew which I attribute more to Matthew than Jesus. We know Matthew is writing for a mainly Jewish audience and so the promise in the next verses that the twelve disciples will sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel is understandable. It shows Jesus' connection with the Jewish tradition. Unfortunately, it makes it sound like the disciples are just in it for the future glory.
Read the same story in Luke's gospel and Jesus tells Peter that everyone who gave up something to follow him will, "get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life." No thrones, no judgement upon others, but there's still the promise of, "Don't worry. You'll get yours."
What's in it for me? The question still haunts us today.
We give up our time going to worship, praying, and volunteering to help those in need. We freely give away our hard-earned money to support some mission or ministry. We try to live by the golden rule in a world where that does not often get you very far. Yes, Jesus, we too have given up much in order to follow you. What's in it for us?
Behind the promise of future thrones (Matthew) and future rewards (Luke), however, there is something deeper. Both gospels also refer to a promise of "eternal life." For many of us, that means heaven and that's okay. But in the gospels, there is more to eternal life than 'pie in the sky when you die.' There is also a here and now element to eternal life, a sense of eternal life in this world and in our lifetimes.
What is eternal is God. So "eternal life" is "God-life." It is life lived with feet firmly planted in the ground of our being; it is life lived with a deep, abiding sense of God's guidance; it is life lived with the assurance that we do not walk this weary world alone. We cannot know this God-life until we have given up our attachments to riches and power and securing our own future. Only when we give up our world-life can we discover the joy and wonder of God-life, eternal life. Only then will we know it is all worthwhile. That is what's in it for us.
Dialogues On: Race is a new resource to foster discussion and understanding of race in our society. If you are interested in joining this conversation, please let me know.
Worship This Week
Thursday, June 25, 6:30pm, on the north sidewalk
Sunday, June 28, 9am in the Peace Garden and on Facebook Live
This week is Open and Affirming Sunday and our theme is "Even a Cup of Cold Water"
If you choose to join us in person, please wear a mask and practice social distancing
Keep In Prayer:
Lorrie Watkins, Ruby Reiger, Janet Santana
Our shut-ins: Harriett Ryerson, Kate Shelley, Dot Ann Smith, Nora Smith, Helen Payne