In our previous post, To Live is Christ and to Die is Gain, I wrote about what it means to follow Jesus Christ, quoting from German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
If that’s what Christ calls us to do, “What’s in it for me” you might ask? That question might sound crass, but the Apostle Peter asked that very question after Jesus told the disciples about how hard it was for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. You can find the story in Luke 18:18-30.
In verse 28, Peter makes this statement: “We have left all we had to follow you.” In effect Peter was saying: “What’s in it for us?” “Is it worth it to follow you?” Look carefully at Jesus’ response in verses 29-30. He did not rebuke Peter.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
In Matthew’s gospel account, Jesus tells the 12 disciples that they will have a special place in His kingdom, sitting on 12 thrones and judging the 12 tribes of Israel (cf. Matthew 19:27-30; Revelation 21:12-14).
Of course, as followers of Jesus, our most enduring reward is eternal life, which is God’s will for all who come to Christ for salvation (cf. John 6:39-40). And although eternal life is the ultimate end of our salvation, there are six things I want you to see that we receive for heeding Christ’s call to follow Him. This is not an exhaustive list because as Paul wrote to the Romans: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18 (NASB).
- REST FOR OUR SOULS
Sin takes a toll on us whether it’s physically, mentally or spiritually. When we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, He unburdens us from the devastating effects of sin. See Matthew 11:28-30
- DIVINE NATURE
Another blessing we receive for following Jesus is a new nature. This new nature is divine because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. See 2 Peter 1:3-4
- FREEDOM TO SERVE GOD
As sinful unbelievers we did not serve God because we were not subjects of the King, but when Christ redeemed us and brought us into the kingdom of God, we became priests who serve God. See Revelation 1:4-6; Exodus 19:3-6; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10
- FUTURE INHERITANCE
Whenever I get discouraged because of the unfairness and hardships of life, I think about the glorious future I will have in heaven. It’s something to burst forth with praise. In his first letter, Peter reminds believers, who are enduring persecution, about their future inheritance. He tells them that it would not perish, spoil or fade away and it’s being kept in heaven for them – and you. See 1 Peter 1:3-7
- GLORIFIED BODIES
Since I reached my 50’s, it seems like there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel some ache or pain. As an older friend told me a number of years ago because of his assortment of ailments: “It’s hell getting old.” I wouldn’t go that far because there are many blessings as we age. Yet, at the same time, our bodies tend to break down more and more as we get older, and for those believers whose bodies are racked with sickness and disease, they long for the suffering to end and to adorn their heavenly bodies. Christ’s resurrection, which we celebrate every Easter, ensures us that we will receive glorified bodies. See 1 Corinthians 15:42-44a, 49; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2
- SHARE IN CHRIST’S GLORY
For me, this is the most mind-boggling of all the rewards we will receive for following Christ. He is so magnificent and majestic that I (who still struggles with sin) can’t imagine sharing even a smidgen of His glory, but that’s what scripture teaches. See 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 and Romans 8:17
So, I ask: Is it worth it to follow Jesus? My answer is an emphatic Yes! And Amen!!!
“Our spiritual blessings will be far better than the physical things we know in this life. Our eternity in God’s presence will be much more glorious and joyful than literal physical rewards, though it will be like them in certain ways. All physical things, no matter how beautiful, enjoyable or valuable, are only weak shadows of infinitely better heavenly rewards.” Joseph Tkach,“The Rewards of Following Christ.”