A Foolish Question Graciously Answered
“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have
forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said
unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the
regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye
also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
After seeing and hearing our Lord’s conversation with the rich young ruler, who refused to give up all and follow Christ, the disciples appear to have had another discussion about rewards and prominence in the kingdom of heaven. Though Peter was the spokesman, he was clearly speaking for the rest of the disciples. We know this because, when the Lord answered his question, we are told, “Jesus said unto them” (v. 28) When Peter said, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” it was as though he said, “Master, we have done what the rich young ruler refused to do. What shall be our reward for forsaking all and following you?” Foolish as the question was, our Lord graciously answered it and by it gives us much needed instruction in the way of life and faith.
Though the cost of following Christ may, at times, appear to be very high, the reward of following him is infinitely beyond measure, both in this world and in the world to come.
If we would follow Christ, we must forsake all and follow him. Faith in Christ is such a trust in him, such a confidence in him that those who are born of God, those who are true believers are, in the totality of their lives, committed to him. Faith in Christ surrenders all to him. He is that Pearl of Great Price for which a person gladly sells all that he has (Matt. 13:44-45; Mk. 7:34-37; Lk. 14:25-35).
Faith in Christ is much more than simply believing facts about Christ. It is believing Christ. It is not trusting that he will save you, but trusting him. It is the surrender of my life to the rule, dominion, and disposal of the Son of God. Until we can truthfully say, “We have forsaken all and followed thee,” we are lost, without life, without faith, without hope, under the wrath of God (Matt. 4:18-20; Lk. 5:11). Spurgeon rightly observed…
“No man has truly given himself to Christ unless he has said, ‘My Lord, I give thee this day my body, my soul, my powers, my talents, my goods, my house, my children, and all that I have. Henceforth, I hold them at thy will, as a steward under thee, thine they are. As for me, I have nothing. I have surrendered all to thee.”
Faith in Christ basically involves three things: (1.) The Knowledge of Christ, his person and work, which comes to men by the preaching of the gospel (Rom. -17), (2.) Assent to God’s revelation concerning his Son (1 John 5:1), and (3.) Surrender, or commitment to Christ the Lord.
That which most effectually keeps people from this commitment of faith to Christ is the love of the world (Matt. 19:23-24; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15). “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. ). Nothing on the earth is more dangerous to a man’s soul than riches (Matt. ) Read the Savior’s words again (vv. 23-24).
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto
you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again
I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than
for a rich man to enter into the
Commenting on those verses Ryle wrote…
“Few of our Lord’s sayings sound more startling than this; few run more counter to the opinions and prejudices of mankind; few are so little believed; yet, this saying is true, and worthy of all acceptation. Riches, which all desire to obtain, riches, for which men labor and toil, riches are the most perilous possession!”
Beware of the love of money! Wealthy people are not to be envied, but pitied. It is possible to use it well and do much good with it. But few people do. For every one who uses wealth for the glory of God and the good of men’s souls there are thousands who make a god of their gold and serve it. Money does not make a man good. Only grace can do that. God does not measure a man by the money he has in the bank, but by the grace he has put into his heart. Make certain that your treasure is in heaven.
Yet, we must never presume that the rich cannot be saved (Matt. -26). God’s grace is sufficient for the rich as well as for the poor. God the Holy Spirit can cause even the richest of men to seek treasure in heaven. He can cause kings to cast down their crowns at the feet of Christ. He can compel even rich men to count all things but loss for Christ. Abraham was rich. Yet, he was the father of the faithful. Job was rich. But he loved Christ. Moses was rich. Still he followed the Savior. David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Josiah, and Hezekiah all stand as monuments of sovereign grace. They forsook all and followed Christ. Though God gave them riches, he graciously enabled them not to sit their hearts upon their wealth, and taught them to use what he put in their hands for his glory. When he called for them to make sacrifices, they made them willingly. We must carry the gospel to the rich and to the poor. God has his elect everywhere, for “with God all things are possible” (Isa. 43:13). He saves both the rich and the poor, as it pleases him.
Those who forsake all and follow Christ shall lose nothing by doing so. God’s people do not serve him for gain. Those who preach the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel of greed are false prophets. Let that be stated emphatically. And those who attempt to inspire holiness, devotion, and sacrifice among God’s saints by the promise of reward in heaven betray a base falseness to their own religion. Yet, I affirm, without hesitation, to all who have forsaken all and do forsake all to follow Christ, that you shall incur no lose by doing so, neither in this world, nor in the world to come (1 Sam. 2:30; Rom. 8:18, 26-39; 1 Cor. 3:22-23).
I do not suggest that God will make
you wealthy, or healthy, or even comfortable in a physical, material sense in
this world. Such a condition probably would not be best for you or me. But I do make you this assertion in
the name of God as you forsake all and follow Christ, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by
Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19; Lk. 18:28-30). Our Lord promised his Apostles that
in the world to come (the regeneration) they would sit upon twelve thrones
judging (ruling over) the twelve tribes of
All who have forsaken family and property for Christ’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold in this world. If your family abandons you for your devotion to Christ, do not forget that you have a father and brother in every believing man, a mother and a sister in all the women of Christ’s kingdom. If your faith costs you property and possessions, do not fret. To be at home everywhere is to be the richest person imaginable. To have family everywhere is to be rich indeed.
Moreover, in the world to come you who forsake all and follow Christ “shall inherit everlasting life,” all the glory, bless, and joy of heaven (John 17:5, 22; Rom. -18). As Spurgeon put it, “They who lose all for Christ will find all in Christ, and receive all with Christ.”
In Luke the Lord Jesus had just declared to Peter, and declared it publicly, before all his disciples, that Satan desired to have them all that he might sift them as wheat. Then, he told Peter plainly that he had prayed for him that his faith fail not; assuring him that, though he must be sifted and suffer a great fall, he would be converted and made an instrument of usefulness to his brethren. Peter protested. He said, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended… Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee” (Matt. 26:33-35). Then, the Lord said to him plainly, “I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me” (Lk. ). Then, the Lord Jesus spoke to all the disciples, Peter included. “He said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing” (v. 35).
The Lord Jesus had sent these men out to preach the gospel without any visible means of sustenance. They were not even given the necessities of life. They had no property, no accommodations, no supplies, and no money. And now, the Lord Jesus asked, “Lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing.” They lacked nothing at all. Wherever they went, they found someone ready to put them up, feed them, and give them a change of clothes and a little traveling money. Though they were sent out empty and destitute with nothing, wherever they went, the Lord Jesus went before them, opened the hearts of men to them, and graciously supplied them with everything they needed, and did so bountifully.
All this was done, as if to say to Peter, and to the rest of the disciples, and to you and me, — “Though Satan will sift you as wheat, and though you will often fail and often fail miserably, though you may fall, fall often, and fall very low, you are mine, and you shall never lack anything.”
Let all who have forsaken all and follow Christ, to hear and answer this question. It is a question your Savior asks of you and me. “Lacked ye anything?” I know your answer. It is the answer all God’s saints are sweetly compelled by the blessed experience of grace to give. “Nothing.” He “Who daily loadeth us with benefits” (Ps. 68:19) has seen to it that we have lacked nothing. And as it has been yesterday, so it shall be tomorrow. Those who trust the Lord Jesus shall lack nothing. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want…For there is no want to them that fear him. They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing” (Ps. 23:1; 34:9-10). We confidently sing with John Newton…
“Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
And, when this heart and flesh shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.”
The richest man in the world is the man who is content. If a man is content, he can never be made richer or poorer. And those who have Christ ought to be perfectly content, because Christ is contentment. It is written, “I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord” (Jer. 31:14). Having Christ, we lack nothing. In him we have all. There is such infinite fullness in him that we can lack nothing. “Lacked ye anything” that God requires? “Nothing” (Col. 1:12). “Lacked ye anything” needed to perform the work he has given you? “Nothing.” His grace has been sufficient. “Lacked ye anything” when, like Peter, you have fallen? “Nothing.” He has come to us again and again. “Lacked ye anything” when your heart has been most heavy? “Nothing.” Christ has been our Comfort and our Strength. “Lacked ye anything” when you have been utterly empty? “Nothing.” Christ is our fulness. “Lacked ye anything” when you have been utterly weak before him? “Nothing.” His strength is made perfect in our weakness. “Lacked ye anything” when your love for him has waned? “Nothing.” His love for us is perfect, free, and immutable. “Lacked ye anything” when your faith has been small? “Nothing.” Our hope is not in our faith, but in his faithfulness.
As we have lacked for nothing in days past, be assured, we shall lack nothing tomorrow (John 14:1-3). When tomorrow’s trials come, his grace will be sufficient. When tomorrow’s sickness comes, his grace will be sufficient. When tomorrow’s sorrow comes, his grace will be sufficient. When tomorrow’s death comes, his grace will be sufficient. When, on the appointed tomorrow, we must stand before our God to give account, even then we shall lack nothing. His grace will be sufficient.
God does not view things as we do. Our Savior declares that “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first” (v. 30). God is no respecter of persons. Those who are counted first by men (the wealthy, the learned, the powerful) are counted last by God. And those whom men look upon as nothings and nobodies shall be first (1 Cor. -30).