A glorious new year wish from me to you and yours! We restart this blog by studying the words of Jesus to Peter and the disciples. This was not one of those 'big crowd' moments but possibly a conversation held as the Twelve and Jesus were walking from town to town. To contextualise Peter's exclamation: we have just read in the verses before of the rich young ruler who turned down the offer from Jesus to follow Him. What stood between the man and eternal life was his love of his wealth. This man by his actions had shut himself out of the Kingdom of Heaven! Peter and the other disciples had accepted Jesus' invite and had thus experienced the joys, trials and the full commitment required.
The answer of Jesus falls into three sections:
1. He promised that anyone who gave up anything for His sake and the sake of the Gospel received back a hundredfold. Yes, throughout the world we will know of those who have lost families, friends, careers and so on and have proclaimed that they have received far more than they have lost!
2. Jesus went on to add two things: He adds the word 'Persecutions' to His promise of abundance. Jesus was always clear and honest about what following Him would entail, He never promised that it would be easy. Also, He never used a bribe to make people follow Him, He used a challenge, which was that His followers would need to prove themselves fit for the task. He also made it clear that the balance sheet between commitment and reward might well not be sorted in this world; that the world to come would most fully reward through the blessings of eternity.
3. Jesus ended with a few words of warning: ''Many who are first will be last and the last first'. Peter and the other disciples clearly felt that they would be up there on Jesus' right and left in the Kingdom of Heaven, but Jesus warns them against pride. The judgements of Heaven might well upset the reputations of earth.