A New Goverment
By: Jim O'Brien
Have you ever discovered something new that had been right in front of your eyes for years? Something so plain you wonder "why" you ever missed it in the first place.
That happened to me many years ago when I was reading Matthew 19:28. An upright young man who was moved by Jesus’ message approached him asking to be allowed to follow to be part of the group of disciples. Jesus was impressed with him and offered him a place of prominence. However, he would need to give up his enormous wealth. The story does not have a happy conclusion. The young man rejected Jesus’ offer because the price of discipleship was too high.
The disciples must have been moved by the circumstance because a serious discussion followed.
Typical of Peter, his bluntness caused him to say, "We have left everything to follow you! What reward will be given to us?"
Jesus wasn’t offended by what may seem a self-seeking question. In fact, his response is equally candid. "What I'm about to tell you is true," Jesus said to them. "When all things are made new, the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne. Then you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones. You will judge the 12 tribes of Israel. Everyone who has left houses or families or fields because of me will receive 100 times as much. They will also receive eternal life" (Matthew 19:27-29).
Even though this was a familiar scripture always before it had an ethereal air. In other words, I didn’t read it for what it obviously said. Jesus was giving his word to his closest friends that they would not only receive a spiritual reward but great wealth—an unmistakably physical compensation. His integrity was at stake. He was the WORD which could not be false.
The disciples had given up everything to follow him. Their friends, careers, position in the community and maybe even family. The question was legitimate. "What reward will be given us?"
Jesus doesn’t mince words. "You…will…sit on 12 thrones. You will judge the 12 tribes of Israel."
What this meant to a Jew in the 1st Century, and Peter was a Jew, is almost incomprehensible to 21st Century Christians. The Jews were unique among all men because they looked for the Messiah to come to the earth! They expected him to restore power to Israel.
Jesus doesn’t chastise them for expecting rewards that go to the political party that wins the election. Far from it, he tells them that their expectations were real. He is the Messiah. He will sit on a throne with great power which he will share with his disciples.
Not only that, but Jesus also promised blessings that are clearly financial! He specifically mentions houses and fields. He promises physical wealth in the Kingdom of God. Such statements are too specific to be otherworldly.
Neither do they match the image of the Kingdom of Heaven often described by radio evangelists.
On the Day of Pentecost in 30 A.D., as the disciples watched Jesus taken up into heaven, angels appeared beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. But he will come back in the same way you saw him go" (Acts 1:11).
He will return to earth with a Kingdom. The subjects will be live human beings with jobs and families. There will be schools, libraries, churches, restaurants, and sports centers. This supports a literal meaning to the prophecy of Isaiah that "the government will be upon his shoulders." Jesus and his followers will rule that world.
The closest connection contemporary Americans might make to Peter’s thought process is a political election. In America we choose leaders to hold office for two, or maybe six years. It’s a strange irony that the best system the world has known limits these celebrities to a few years in office so that citizens may be protected from their abuses.
Only one man is worthy of eternal rule.
This Tuesday, September 7, 2021, many Christians will celebrate the Feast of Trumpets, a day that celebrates the time when Jesus will return to earth, establish his kingdom and give unparalleled rewards to his faithful followers.
Wouldn’t you like to be part of His New Government?
Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati
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