February 2, 2015
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news this cold morning is from Mark 10:28-31.
Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and [the] last will be first.”
Peter, after witnessing Jesus’ response to the young man, wondered what the disciples’ reward will be since they have given up everything to follow Jesus — family, jobs, possessions. They had become itinerants and been subjected to hostile crowds and to the condemnation of religious authorities. Weren’t they going to be favored by God in some way for their sacrifices?
Jesus promised that they will receive a hundred times more than they have given up now and eternally. God will bless them now and forever. Jesus told them that they will be first, not the rich and powerful that society believed would be first. What were the rewards they were then receiving or about to receive? Both the New Jerome Biblical Commentary and Moloney in The Gospel of Mark state that it was the community of believers, the inner circle of the disciples, the fellowship they shared with Jesus, the satisfaction of living according to Jesus’ gospel that was their reward, a reward greater than riches or even family.
However, Jesus also told them that with life with him and in him would provoke persecution. Some reward! I don’t want to hear that! I want abundance; I want life to be all sweetness and light. I don’t want to suffer. But the good life and suffering go hand in hand in living according to the gospels, in submitting my will to God’s will to love others no matter what. That’s always the challenge that Jesus presents me. I will be rewarded a hundred times over, but I have to accept the suffering that comes with it. It’s what I think of as tough love.