Tuesday, December 8, 2009

12/8- Mark 10:28-31- Leaving The World Behind for a Crown

(Christ the King with 24 thrones around him- orthodox)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

Mark 10:28-31 (Mt. 19:27-30; Lk. 18:28-30, 22:28-30)

28 Then Peter spoke up, "We have left everything to follow you!" 29 "Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
Matthew 19:28: 28 Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Luke 22:28-30: 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Calvin abridged: Peter basically compares himself and the other disciples to the rich man who had turned aside from Christ to follow the world. He inquired if their leaving all their property to follow Christ would mean they would be restored to a better condition. Certainly if some reward had not been reserved for the disciples, it would have been foolish for them to change the course of their life. They make a mistake in that they demand a payment when they are still in the midst of the war. 28- Christ warns them that the glory of his kingdom, which at that time was still hidden, was about to be revealed. If this was true of Christ who was in a humble estate, they should also endure and partake with him in his humility until they can take part with him in his glory. By assigning them twelve thrones (Mt. 19:28) he puts them in the highest seats of the royal council. Twelve were chosen because Christ was sent to gather a remnant from his people. Though the kingdom of Christ was shown in some respects by the preaching of the Gospel, there is no doubt Christ was speaking of the last day. “At the renewal of all things”- The world began to be renewed at the first coming of Christ when the darkness of death began to change to the light of life. Christ cautions them from raised expectations by distinguishing between the beginning and completion of his reign. Luke 22:28-30 is a continuation of this same discourse on the rich young ruler and leaving things. “Stood by me in my trials” could be translated “remained steadfastly with me in my temptations”. These temptations are the ones Christ and the apostles faced together where their faith and patience were actually tried. “I confer to you a kingdom”- Here he not only makes them judges, but kings, for he shares with them the kingdom which he received from the Father. To eat and drink at his table is saying the same thing. God permits his people to be severely afflicted, yet he never abandons them, or leaves them without his assistance. Those who willingly lose all for Christ’s sake will be more happy in this life than if they had retained them. What he promises about being rewarded “a hundred times”- appears to not agree with our experience; for many who have been deprived of parents, children, other relatives- who have been made widows, stripped of their wealth for their testimony- are so far from recovering their property, that in exile, solitude, and desertion they have a hard struggle with severe poverty. But God’s immediate grace cannot compare to all the wealth of the world, for his grace relieves our sorrow. Though unbelievers flourish, they do not know what will happen to them the next day, and must be tossed about by perplexity and terror so that they cannot truly enjoy their prosperity. Yet God gladdens his people so that they are able to be thankful and value what little they have. Though believers endure the cross, so sweet is God’s seasoning of grace that their condition is more desirable than the luxuries of kings. “Many who are first will be last”- Christ exhorts those who have begun well to persevere, and reminds them of runners who started well but did not finish well (as Paul reminds us that not all who run obtain the prize- 1 Cor. 9:24). We are to forget what is behind and press on toward the prize- our crown (Phil. 3:13,14).
Thoughts: Perhaps the spiritual laziness of our day is there because many have not left anything for Christ, and not many take a stand for Him. The apostles dropped their nets to follow Him. Calvin was an exile who gave up his monthly pay of the church to be true to his faith. He was writing to many exiles who came to him in Geneva- some nobles, some formerly wealthy- who gave it all up to believe the scriptures. The Christmas-spiritual “Rise up Shepherd and Follow” says, “You’ll forget your flocks you’ll forget your herds”. The Christian who tries to hold onto the world and follow the morning star of Jesus is like someone trying to go into space in a rocket that is anchored to the launching pad. Repentance means leaving our own way of thinking (which we tend to justify) and give it up for Jesus. The Church today brings the mud of the world into the clear water of Christ, and the world sees muddied water. We need to listen to Him and repent of our sins. We want to be first in the world and first for Christ. But in a world that is steadily going astray, such a desire for worldliness pulls us down. One of the great things in America is the generosity of the people at Christmas. Generosity helps us to not be a hoarding, grumpy Scrooge, but it also helps us let go of the world’s hand a bit to grab the hand of Christ.

Prayer: God, you so loved us by sending your Son- who left his throne for us. Give us grace to let go of our petty kingdoms here that we might focus on the kingdom to come- a crown laid up for us.

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