“Emmanuel’s Dividends” – Matthew 19:27-30


March 13th, 2016

Matthew 19:27-30 (see also Mark 10:28-31 & Lk 18:28-30)

“Emmanuel’s Dividends”

Auxiliary Text: 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Call to Worship from: Psalm 1

 

Service Orientation: Everyone invests their life into something.  Jesus assures us that there is no better dividend for your investment than Himself.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  —Matthew 6:33

 

Background Information:

  • (v. 27) Peter speaks as usual on behalf of the Twelve, and Jesus’ answer will be directed to them in the plural. The grammatically unnecessary subject “we” adds emphasis to the contrast with the rich man.  Peter’s words sound both smug (we, unlike that young man, have done what you asked) and mercenary (God owes us).  The reader is being prepared for v. 30 (and the parable that follows), where Peter’s simplistic calculation will be challenged.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 741)
  • (v. 27) They have left everything to follow Jesus, but we have heard nothing of selling and giving. Peter apparently retained his house and family in Capernaum (see on 8:14-15), and the ready availability of a boat for the various lake crossings in Matthew’s narrative suggests that at least one of the fisherman-disciples kept his boat.  For the period during which they shared Jesus’ itinerant ministry they have left home, family, and possessions behind, and the little we know of the subsequent history of the Twelve from Acts suggests that they would in fact have little opportunity to return to them, but it seems that they had not gotten rid of them.  1 Cor 9:5 suggests that in their subsequent lives they were able to rejoin their wives, if not return to their homes.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 742)
  • (v. 27) The Greek word aphekamen (NIV – “left everything”) is in the aorist tense, signifying a once-for-all act. They had done what the rich young man had been unwilling to do.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 382)
  • (v. 27) Peter had left his fishing business, as had Andrew, James, and John. Matthew had left his tax collecting business.  But the spirit of coveting was still in Peter, and probably in the others too, for Peter couldn’t keep from adding, “What then will there be for us?” showing by his question that he still had much of the spirit of the rich young man and not much of the humble trusting spirit of the children Jesus had used as an illustration of what was needed for salvation.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 411)
  • The phrase “I tell you the truth” (NIV) comes from a single Greek word “amen”.
  • (v. 28) The Greek word translated the renewal of all things (palingenesia) occurs only here and in Ti 3:5 in the NT. It is a technical term developed by the Stoics, who expected a periodic renewal of the universe following its destruction by fire.  In Jewish thought, regeneration referred to the renewal of Israel that would accompany the establishment of God’s earthly kingdom.  Christians linked the concept with the enthronement of the Son of Man.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 185)
  • (v. 28) The idea of judging (v. 28 has the participle krinontes) should be taken in the sense of ruling. The Hebrew judge was virtually the ruler of Israel.  The symbolism of the twelve tribes is carried over into NT to represent the Christian church (cf. Jam 1:1).  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 185)
  • (v. 28) What is meant by these “twelve tribes of Israel”? In all probability the term refers to the restored new Israel.  Whether, as such, it indicates the total number of the elect gathered out of the twelve tribes of the Jews from the beginning to the end of the world’s history (cf. Rom 11:26), or even all the chosen ones of both the Jews and the Gentiles (cf. Gal 6:16), in either case it must refer to those who have been regenerated, for into the reborn universe to which 19:28 refers nothing unclean will ever enter (Rv 21:27).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 730)
  • (v. 30) The proverbial saying (v. 30) is one Jesus repeats on various occasions. Here he immediately illustrates it by a parable (20:1-16), climaxed by the proverb in reverse form (20:16) as a closing bracket.  It indicates something of the reversals under the king’s reign.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 426)
  • (v. 30) Jesus closes in verse 30 by saying, “but many who are first will be last, and the last first.” This truth serves not only to conclude verses 13-30–where children are received by Jesus, while a respected and wealthy man was turned away–but it also sets the stage for chapter 20.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 269)
  • He has already entered the kingdom of heaven and found salvation. Instead, he focuses on rewards.  Jesus will acknowledge the rewards they will receive, but Peter’s self-seeking for rewards sets up the parable in 20:1-15, which is a subtle rebuke to that self-seeking.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 651)

 

The questions to be answered are . . . What is Jesus telling us here?   What does that mean for us today?

 

Answer:  Whatever we invest to follow Jesus will return dividends well over 100 times what you invested . . .  plus eternal life.   You cannot out-give God.

 

The Word for the Day is . . . dividend

 

What is Jesus telling us?   What does that mean for us?

I-  The Kingdom of Heaven is now, not yet.  Dividends for your sacrificial investment in the Kingdom of Heaven will not be fully disbursed until the renewal of all things. (Gk: palingenesia)  (Mt 19:28; see also: Mt 5:10-12; 6:19-34; 10:41-42; 25:31-46; Mk 10:28-30; Lk 12:32-34; 1 Tm 6:6-19)

 

The time when this promise will be fulfilled is definitely indicated as being the day “when the Son of man shall be seated on the throne of his kingdom”; in other words the reference is clearly to the period beginning with the day of Christ’s return for judgment (see on 25:31-46; cf. On 16:27, 28).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 730)

 

Personally, I am convinced that Jesus gives us every good that he can possible give us without rendering us unfit for his work of destroying our souls.  The reason many of us do not have more is that the Lord knows we would misuse it.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 412)

 

All that partake of the regeneration in grace (Jn 3:3) shall partake of the regeneration in glory; for as grace is the first resurrection (Rv 20:6), so glory is the second regeneration.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 279)

 

The term palingenesia (regeneration) literally means new birth.  It was used by Josephus for the new birth of the Jewish nation after the Babylonian Captivity and by Philo of the new birth of the earth after the Flood and after its destruction by fire.  It is used only twice in the NT, here and in Ti 3:5, where Paul uses it to refer to the personal new birth of believers.  In the present passage, however, Jesus uses it to represent the rebirth of the earth under His sovereign dominion at the time of His second coming.  It will be paradise regained and a global parallel to the individual rebirth of Christians.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 204)

 

The Word makes clear that in the reign of Christ over the world, He will be sovereign and rule over Jews and Gentiles with righteousness, peace, and immediate justice.  He will be worshiped as supreme Lord, and His kingdom will bring prosperity, healing, health, and blessedness.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 205)

 

Our Lord saw Peter’s reply not as childish but childlike.  You see, the early apostles did in fact give up all earthly allegiances.  They left their jobs to follow Jesus.  They left their families (at least for a time, if not for a lifetime) to follow Jesus.  They left their homes and property to follow Jesus.  And because of such faith, a faith demonstrated with such sacrificial works, Christ gave them here a word of comfort and blessing.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 553)

 

Most of us to not WANT to believe in Christ  We do not want to give up allegiance to ourselves.”  (Sally Monroe at Bible study 3-29-06)

 

II-  If you forfeit temporal assets to invest in Jesus He will pay dividends over 10,000 percent . . . with an eternal life signing bonus.  (Mt 19:28-29; see also: Mt 16:26; 25:14-30; Mk 8:36; 10:28-30; Lk 9:25; Acts 20:35; Rom 8:18-25; 1 Cor 2:9; 2 Cor 4:7-18; Eph 3:20-21; 1 Tm 6:6-19; 1 Pt 1:3-9; Rv 2:7, 10)

 

Jesus is not against investment.  He is against bad investment—namely, setting your heart on the comforts and securities that money can afford in this world.  Money is to be invested for eternal yields in heaven—“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven!”  (John Piper; Desiring God, 165)

 

What bank on earth can guarantee a return as great as “an hundredfold [10,000 percent]”?  The Lord enumerated the things on which people most often set their hearts.  He began with houses and ended with lands.  In between He listed the most cherished members of the family circle.  All who give up anything for Christ will one day reap enormous rewards.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 388)

 

Even here he and the others are thinking in terms of deserving or earning God’s favor.  Yet Jesus does not castigate his disciples for being mercenary:  they have made sacrifices and deserve an answer.  But what he says–that the blessing to come, whether belonging exclusively to the Twelve at the renewal (v. 28) or to all believers now (vv. 29-30), far surpasses any sacrifice they might make–implies that it is a gentle rebuke.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 425)

 

When a person comes to Jesus Christ he must often have to turn his back on certain relationships, even with those who are very dear to him.  Many times his conversion turns his own family and closest friends against him, in some cases even to the point of seeking his disinheritance or even his life.  But the one who gives up everything for Christ’s sake, not only will inherit eternal life but also the family of God in this present life.  He will have a host of new fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters with whom he will forever be united in God’s divine family.  Wherever he goes, he meets spiritual loved ones, many of whom he has never seen or heard of before.  Throughout the world he finds those who will share his sorrows, encourage his spirit, and help meet his needs, material as well as spiritual.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 205-6)

 

The blessings promised by Jesus are themselves blessed by God.  His favor rests on them, and his divine power makes them effective in assisting other people.  It is not just that we are blessed.  Others are blessed by them through us.  To be blessed in this way is to be twice blessed, because the one receiving the gift is blessed along with the giver.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 413)

 

The life of heaven is far more than enough to compensate for any earthly loss.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 745)

 

New “relatives” will now be theirs (Mt 12:46-50; Rom 16:13; 1 Cor 4:15), for they now belong to “the family of God” (see N.T.C. on Eph 3:15).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 731)

 

“Fields” is the most interesting term.  The other terms can be spiritualized to an extent.  When Jesus mentions “homes” he is, I believe, speaking of literal, earthly homes, involving family members and houses and furniture and pots and pans and such things.  But it might be possible to think instead of a “heavenly home” and thus remove this element from earthly life.  The same might be done with brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and children, which might refer merely to the “family of God” in heaven.  Such an interpretation cannot be applied to “fields.”  Fields mean earth.  Thus, the mention of fields carries us back to the context, in which earthly possessions are discussed, and warns us about taking the other elements of this promise only in a spiritual sense.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 412)

 

During the millennium the Lord will rule over the whole world.  Jerusalem will be the world’s capital and Jews will administer the earthly empire.  The twelve apostles will have authority over the twelve reconstituted tribes of Israel.  Each apostle will control tremendous wealth and wield enormous power.  The rich young ruler forfeited his place in the millennial kingdom for the sake of his puny purse.  Judas would throw away his reward for the sake of thirty pieces of silver.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 387)

 

Christ will always outdo in reward any sacrifice we make for Him.  But He cautions “that the divine perspective upsets human values”, and this will be made plain in the world to come (30).  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 105)

 

III-  Don’t be deceived by appearances.  The eternal Kingdom of Heaven “will be” the great reversal of the present temporal illusion and must be embraced by faith to enter.  (Mt 19:30; see also: Mk 6:19-34; 10:31; Rom 8:18-25; 2 Cor 4:13-18; 5:7-10; 1 Tm 6:6-19; Heb 11:9-10, 13-16, 26, 35b-40)

 

It seems preferable, therefore, to take the proverb as a way of setting forth God’s grace over against all notions that the rich, powerful, great, and prominent will continue so in the kingdom.  Those who approach God in childlike trust (vv. 13-15) will be received and advanced in the kingdom beyond those who, from the world’s perspective, enjoy prominence now.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 426)

 

In the setting of the “rich young ruler” story discussed earlier, Peter pointed out to Jesus that he and the other disciples had, unlike that wealthy young man, left everything to follow him.  “What will we get for this?” he wanted to know.

Jesus replied that they would be rewarded in this life many times over for all their sacrifices and given eternal life in the world to come.  “But,” he added, “many who are first shall be last, and the last shall be first” (Mk 10:31).  He knew that much of what Peter and the others thought to be important was not really so, and that what they thought to be of no importance was often of great significance before God.  Their thinking would have to be rearranged before they could understand their “reward” for leaving all to follow him.  So he adds his “reversal” formula to help them keep thinking.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 121-22)

 

Jesus ends by showing that serving him and the kingdom of heaven for the primary purpose of receiving rewards and gaining personal prominence is the least noble of motivations for a disciple (19:30).  Those who serve for the purpose of gaining rewards will be last, but those who serve for the motivation of obeying Jesus’ summons will be first (cf. 20:1-16).  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 652)

 

Peter flaunts the sacrifice that he and the other disciples have made to follow Jesus and boldly asks, “What then will there be for us?” (19:27).  His question reveals a wrong motive.  He is driven by serving Jesus and the kingdom of heaven for the primary purpose of receiving rewards and gaining personal prominence.  Jesus acknowledges Peter’s sacrifice and does say that he will be rewarded, but this is the least noble of motivations for a disciple.  The paradoxical statement about the first and the last (19:30; cf. 20:16) declares that those who serve with the primary motivation of receiving rewards will be last, and those who serve only in order to respond in obedience to Jesus’ summons will be first (cf. 20:1-16).  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 659)

 

“The antithesis of worldly behavior, and the cure for conformity to the world, is set forth particularly in the “upside-down kingdom” of the Sermon on the Mount.  The lifestyle of the kingdom is not proud but poor in spirit, not self-confident but meek and sensitive to conviction of sin, not self-righteous but repentant, not praise-seeking but God-obeying even to the point of suffering persecution, not vengeful but forgiving, not ostentatious or laborious in piety but secretive and simple, not anxious or acquisitive but content in serving God, not judgmental but merciful.  If these patterns can be nurtured in the church, they will affect the moral structure of the rest of humanity.”   (Richard Lovelace; Renewal as a Way of Life, 97)

 

We are reminded of the words of Jehovah addressed to Samuel, “Jehovah does not see as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart” (1 Sm 16:7).  The “first” are those who because of their wealth, education, position, prestige, talents, etc., are highly regarded by men in general, sometimes even by God’s children.  But since God sees and knows the heart many of these very people are by him assigned to a position behind the others; in fact, some may even be altogether excluded from the halls of glory.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 732)

 

Not only will many of those who are now regarded as the very pillars of the church be last, but also many who never made the headlines–think of the poor widow who contributed “two mites” (Mk 12:42), and Mary of Bethany whose act of loving lavishness was roundly criticized by the disciples (Mt 26:8)–shall be first on the day of judgment (Mk 12:43, 44; Mt 26:10-13).  The disciples, who were constantly quarreling about rank (18:1; 20:20; Lk 22:24) better take note!  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 732)

 

The secularists of Jesus’ day summed up their philosophy like this:  “Eat, drink, and be merry.  For tomorrow you die.” Contrast that with Jesus’ words:  “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”  Think in terms of eternity.  Think of the long-range implications.  This touches us most directly, not simply in how we handle our bank accounts, but at the level of how we invest our lives.  Life is an investment and the question that modern man has to answer is, “Am I going to invest my life for short-term benefits or for long-term gains?  (R.C. Sproul; Lifeviews, 37)

 

Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.  —Augustine

 

Christ was master of the paradox.  His teaching is salted with shining contrasts like:  Last is first.  Giving is receiving.  Dying is living.  Losing is finding.  Least is greatest.  Poor is rich.  Weakness is strength.  Serving is ruling.  (R. Kent Hughes; Are Evangelicals Born Again, 44)

 

God may allow the ungodly to amass great wealth to their destruction.  As for Christians, if you belong to Christ and put riches (or anything else) before service to Christ, God may take away your wealth until you repent and turn to him.  However, if you are a follower of Christ and place him first in everything, you can be sure that whatever possessions God wants you to have will be safe.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 413)

 

Read the twenty-eighth and the twenty-ninth verses, and you will find a cataract of promise and pledge and gift in reply to a man who had left his broken nets and his poor ship.  Yet the thirtieth verse says in paraphrase form, “Remember, there are many that are first that may be last, and the last may be first.”  Do not count upon all this property you are going to have until you have lived worthy of your great vocation.  At the last you may fall, and he who left all at the first with a wrong motive may get nothing at the last, and so may be a pauper at both ends.  (Joseph Parker, Christ’s Finished Work, Studies in Matthew 16-28, 56)

 

Worship Point:  Worship the God Who knows our innate desire to pursue the abundant life and Who provides us a righteous way to obtain it.  (1 Cor 2:9; Eph 3:20-21; Heb 11:13-16, 24-27, 39-40)

 

Jesus assures these twelve disciples–excluding Judas, but since he would be replaced the number twelve is still correct–that even though it is God who is the sole Author of their salvation, they themselves will be richly rewarded for the sacrifice they have made and are making.  The fact that God delights in bestowing upon his children the reward of grace is clearly established in Holy Writ (Gn 22:15-18; Ps 25:12-15; Dn 12:3; Mt 5:1-12; 10:32, 41, 42; 11:28-30; 25:34-40; Lk 12:32, 37, 43, 44; 19:17-19; 1 Cor 3:14; 9:17; Col 2:18; 3:24; 2 Thes 1:7-10; Heb 10:35; 11:6, 26; 2 Jn 8; Rv 2:7, 10, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 10-12, 21; 22:12).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 729)

 

“You cannot please God if you do not come to Him for reward!”  (John Piper; Desiring God, the Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, 90)

 

The NT has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself.  We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what  we  shall  ultimately  find  if  we  do  so contains an appeal to desire.  If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.  Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.

We must not be troubled by unbelievers when they say that this promise of reward makes the Christian life a mercenary affair.  There are different kinds of reward.  There is the reward which has no  natural connection with the things you do to earn it, and is quite foreign to the desires that ought to accompany those things.  Money is not the natural reward of love; that is why we call a man mercenary if he marries a woman for the sake of her money.  But marriage is the proper reward for a real lover, and he is not mercenary for desiring it.  A general who fights well in order to get a peerage is mercenary; a general who fights for victory is not, victory being the proper reward of battle as marriage is the proper reward of love.  (C. S. Lewis; The Weight of Glory, 22)

 

Jesus tells the rich ruler to go and sell his possessions, but He follows it up by saying, “and you will have treasure in heaven” (v. 21).  Jesus was not calling the rich man away from treasure but to treasure.  There’s actually a tinge of self-serving motivation here, as in, sell everything you have in order to get something better!  The question for us is whether we will live for short-term pleasures we cannot keep or for long-term treasure we cannot lose.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 269)

 

Gospel Application:  We could never begin to merit what God offers.  The glorious benefits of our faith in Christ are all by grace.

 

Nothing is comparable to God’s blessings.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 411)

 

People have suggested that if we do such-and-such, then God is obliged to do such-and-such for us.  That is manipulative, and the text does not support this view.  However, properly received, it does encourage us to serve God in Christ’s service, knowing that we will be blessed for it.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 413)

 

In the kingdom of heaven nobody earns their status, even by spectacular renunciation.  They may rightly expect a reward, but not necessarily the reward of preeminence.  The kingdom of heaven, which operates by divine grace rather than by human achievement, is a great leveler.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 746)

 

Now if we could but mix faith with the promise, and trust Christ for the performance of it, surely we should think nothing too much to do, nothing too hard to suffer, nothing too dear to part with, for him.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 281)

 

We creatures, we jolly beggars, give glory to God by our dependence.  Our wounds and defects are the very fissures through which grace might pass.  It is our human destiny on earth to be imperfect, incomplete, weak, and mortal, and only by accepting that destiny can we escape the force of gravity and receive grace.  Only then can we grow close to God.

Strangely, God is closer to sinners than to “saints.”  (By saints I mean those people renowned for their piety—true saints never lose sight of their sinfulness).  (Philip Yancey; What’s so Amazing About Grace?, 273)

 

Spiritual Challenge:  We can live our life now with courage, hope, power and joy in light of our glorious redemption at the great renewal of all things.  (Rom 8:18-25; 2 Cor 4:7-5:10; 1 Tm 6:17-19; 1 Pt 1:3-9)

 

Certainly, if some reward had not been reserved for the disciples, it would have been foolish in them to have changed their course of life.  But though on that ground they might be excused, they err in this respect, that they demand a triumph to be given them, before they have finished their warfare.  If we ever experience such uneasiness at delay, and if we are tempted by impatience, let us learn first to reflect on the comforts by which the Lord soothes the bitterness of the cup in this world, and next elevate our minds to the hope of the heavenly life; for these two points embrace the answer of Christ.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 404-5)

 

 

The Christian Way—The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists.  A baby feels hunger:  well, there is such a thing as food.  A duckling wants to swim:  well, there is such a thing as water.  Men feel sexual desire:  well, there is such a thing as sex.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.  If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.  Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.  If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.  I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.  (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 120) (purple, bold emphasis Pastor Keith)

 

“It is, then, the hope of glory which makes suffering bearable.” (John R. W. Stott; The Cross of Christ, 323).

 

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. —Jim Elliott

 

CHRIST:

SECURE INVESTMENT

 

 

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