(This post is part of a series of short studies in Mark's Gospel)
Mark 10: 28 Peter began to say to him, "Look, we have left everything and followed you." 29 Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
What did Jesus mean when he promised that his followers would “receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life?” Why is it that some Christians today who have “left everything” to “follow Christ” are not receiving “a hundredfold?”
As a point of historical context, it is first important to note the distinction of “this age,” and “the age to come” to which Jesus refers. “This age” is the age in which he and his disciples were still living—the Old Covenant Age, which had not yet come to an end as the [first, and physical] temple was still standing (cf. Hebrews 9:8-10). And the “age to come” refers to the New Covenant Age, which was still future, and in the process of becoming, to the apostles writing in the first century, but is now a present reality for us, who have received the “eternal life” of which Jesus speaks in this passage. So the primary application of “receiving a hundred fold in this age” is not for us, but rather for those who were in the process of entering the kingdom “through much tribulation” and persecution (cf. Acts 14:22). But as they were enduring this process, their “houses” and “family” and “fields” were indeed increasing—through the building of the church.
But as we are part of the same church, built upon the same “foundation of the apostles and prophets” (cf. Ephesians 2:20), our “houses” and “family” and “fields” are theirs, as theirs are ours, by inheritance of the “riches of Christ” (cf. Ephesians 2:7; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 1:27; 2:2). These are the “riches” of which the Bible speaks.
Jesus’ association of “receiving a hundredfold” with a familial inheritance (“brothers and sisters, mothers and children”) is elucidated by his earlier redefinition of his “family” (cf. 3:32-35) as those who do the will of God. And those who do the will of God are those who believe the Gospel, and thereby become the true children of Abraham, to whom all the promises of God belong (cf. John 6:29; Galatians 3:26-29; 2 Corinthians 1:20).
Unlike the televangelists or ”prosperity gospel” preachers in our day, the Bible does not equate any aspect of the “riches of Christ” or the promises of God of “health” and “wealth” to his children with material goods or physical comfort. As Paul wrote in Romans, “the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (cf. Romans 14:17).
I have been married to my loving husband Keith for 26 years. We have three beautiful and brilliant children, ages 24, 22 and 20. Nothing cheers my heart more than having them all at home, yet nothing is more satisfying to my mind than watching them grow from afar. My personal passion is theology: the knowledge and experience of the Truth and Mercy found only in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and displayed in the lives and communion of His people. My husband and I love to travel, and because our children are often out and about in the world, we get lots of opportunities to see it! And we also love to fill our home with friends who love us, and love our wine collection.