This month I'm preaching a series on "A Word to ..." The second sermon, given this past Sunday, was "A Word to the Faithful Christian."
The original sermon, in Portuguese, had five key words that rhymed and worked very well. In adapting it to English, it seemed best to go the alliterative route. I hope it works for you.
Texts: Matthew 19:23-30; Mark 10:26-31
A. Paul Harvey had a radio program called "The Rest of the Story," in which he told surprising twists and amazing facts to stories often familiar to the hearer.
B. Matthew 19:23-30 and its parallel in Mark 10, is the "rest of the story" of the shocking encounter of the rich young ruler.
C. It would seem Peter heard only the first part of Jesus' declaration -- what is impossible for man. He worries, selfishly, what will become of himself and his companions who have sacrificed all for the Lord.
D. In what is both a gentle rebuke and a full answer, Jesus replies to Peter's question. And to ours.
- The reliability of the reward: "I tell you the truth." When Jesus prefaced a statement with this phrase, he wanted to emphasize the importance of what he was about to say. The word "truth" here or "truly" is literally "amen." "The point of the Amen before Jesus' own sayings is rather to show that as such they are reliable and true, and that they are so as and because Jesus Himself in His Amen acknowledges them to be His own sayings and thus makes them valid" (TDNT).
- The royalty of the reward: "twelve thrones." Though the promise of sitting with the Lord on the twelve thrones judging Israel obviously applies directly to the apostles, there remains still an application that all the obedient belong to a royal kingdom and participate in the work of its Sovereign (compare 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Not only is it a privilege to be a part of this kingdom, but Jesus implies a responsibility to be exercised.
- The rigors of the reward: "persecution" (Mark 10:30). The mention of persecution, only in Mark's gospel, is not a "however" statement. Persecution is part of the reward. It serves the kingdom and marks the saint as one who belongs to his Lord, who was also persecuted.
- The realty of the reward: spiritual. Though the word "spiritual" doesn't appear in the text, the idea is not literal. Jesus does not promise title to 100 houses, nor deeds to lands. A hundred literal mothers or fathers would be an absurdity. He does promise that in the kingdom what we have sacrificed will be more than amply rewarded by the communion and fellowship of the saints, with every need supplied. Our real estate and relationships are spiritual, but for that they are no less real and no less rewarding.
- The richness of the reward: "100 times ... eternal life." Jesus never encourages us to be accountants, whether counting the number of times to forgive others, or to tally up what's coming to us. He points us to the abundance of our reward in the present, and, in the beyond, to its forever quality, because the final reward is to be present beside the eternal God.
A. Jesus does not forget his own. He cares for those who leave all to follow him.
B. As the hymn says, "God will take care of you."
C. Though we often deal with problems and problematic people, with departures from doctrine and with firming up the weak, we do not want to forget those of you who are faithful to the Lord and who often work in the shadows, without recognition, without encouragement. You should know --
D. The Lord has already given you a reward and will give you a greater one still.