March 15th 2009

Understanding Our Heavenly Reward

“I tell you the truth, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life”
Mark 10:29-30 NIV

How do you explain things that are beyond human comprehension, things that we have never even imagined? Well, God does it the way we would do it to a child – he uses illustrations that we do understand.

That is why Jesus so often described the kingdom of God with parables. He would say ‘The kingdom is like …’ – and then give a practical illustration. We shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking it is an exact description – it is an illustration to help us understand some aspect of what is otherwise beyond our comprehension.

For example, Peter once reminded Jesus that the disciples had given up a lot to follow him. Jesus responded as in the text above from the gospel of Mark.

What Jesus is giving us is comfort and encouragement. But we would misunderstand it if we were to take these words in a literal manner. Jesus did not mean that we would be blessed literally with 100 mothers or 100 new farms. What he meant is that the things we receive in this life will be 100 times more valuable than the things we give up. And he didn’t even mean they are literally, or exactly, 100 times more valuable as opposed to say 99 times or 101 times. It is a figure of speech meaning far, far more valuable.

In several parables, Jesus indicated that the eternal reward would be in some ways like rulership. Once again, this should not be interpreted as a position of power and prestige so that we can lord it over other, or so that we can be more important. Rather, it refers to receiving a greater opportunity to serve and to help others. That really is – or at least should be – the greatest reward for a position of leadership.

These analogies are given to help us understand, and we should be careful not to miss the real point by interpreting them in ways Jesus did not intend. Jesus used them because we do not have the ability, or even the vocabulary, to fully understand, let alone describe, an existence that we have never experienced. But Jesus wants us to know that our spiritual blessing will be far better than the physical things that we can see in this life.

Paul wrote: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV)

All physical things, no matter how beautiful, enjoyable or valuable, are in comparison only like weak shadows of infinitely better heavenly rewards. Whatever we value the most in this physical world, cannot compare with God’s rewards in heaven. As Paul said, we ‘see through a glass darkly’ (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV) as we ‘speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began” (1Corinthians 2:7 NIV).

Prayer
Lord, you gave us a better understanding of the spiritual blessings you have in store for us through the sayings of Jesus and the apostles. Let us see that we are to use that understanding to your glory and not for our own selfish gain.

Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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