Matthew 19:27-30

Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

I don’t know quite what to make of Peter’s exclamation. I wonder if he was feeling overwhelmed by the demands he felt from Jesus’ teaching that not even the rich could enter the kingdom of heaven. By and large, you see, wealth was seen as a sign of blessing in the ancient world, and so Jesus’ teaching that possessing wealth actually makes it harder to enter the kingdom was likely a shock. So Peter may have been wondering, if even the wealthy couldn’t make it, then who could?

Or perhaps, given that Jesus has just said wealth is an impediment, Peter is reminding Jesus that the disciples have no wealth. They have left all things to order to follow Jesus. Will this, at least, qualify them for entrance?

Whatever might have prompted Peter’s exclamation, Jesus responds with a rare moment of sheer commendation, promising that the disciples – and, indeed, all disciples since – will be included in Jesus’ inheritance and be drawn into God’s kingdom.

It would at this point be very tempting to take undue solace in Jesus’ words or even to pat ourselves on the back for being Jesus’ disciples. (And, indeed, we’ll see a similar tendency in the disciples in just a few passages forward.) But Jesus’ last words should temper that urge. Because what is at heart here is not rewards or punishment but God’s inexplicable and surprising tendency to favor the least, to elevate those brought low, and to draw to the front of the line those who have been pushed to the back. God does not view the world the way we do, counting our wealth or accomplishments or power or status as important. Rather, God sees only our human need and vulnerability and responds always as a loving parent, drawing into God’s embrace all those who, for whatever reason, do not have enough.

Prayer: Dear God, let us recognize our need and ask for your help, and let us see others in need and turn to them to help. In Jesus’ name, Amen.