Matthew 19:16-30 Part 4

What does the Law require, O Israel?  That you be perfect – Whole; Undivided; Obedient; Clean; Unmarked; Nothing left out.

But, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one killing the prophets and stoning the ones sent to her, how often I wished to gather your children as a bird gathers her young under the wings.  And you would not.”

O Israel, rich in heritage and ancestry; called and set apart special by God; inheritors of the promised land; receivers and stewards of the Law and the Ark and the Tabernacle; object of God’s Covenant love; given wealth beyond imagination, bedecked with jewels and finery and glory among the nations, and “I would have given you more had you asked for it”; I plundered the Gentile nations that you might be rich; and I promised a Messiah – King – the perfection of all that came before Him – to be the Redeemer of My people.

And all these things speak of Him, O Jerusalem, for His is the Day of Salvation.  He is the inheritance.  He is the Rich.  But you have not the faith of Abraham; you will not believe Moses; you pervert My Words – doing what is right in your own eyes; you kill the prophets I send; you are thoroughly corrupt; you have distorted My Law and left the people with no light, you have ravaged them and left them desolate by theft and injustice; and, yet, you revel still in the wealth and riches of the heritage and the land!  You have rejected My Messiah-King, Who is rich and plenteous in mercy; and, instead, you equate wealth with salvation!  You feast, like ravenous wolves, on the poor and the widows and orphans, and then view your riches as a sign from God confirming your virtue!  O, Israel, I leave your house desolate.

These are some of the claims of God against Israel as the time nears for the eschatological end of the age.  Wealth and land and heritage were equated with virtue, rather than foreshadowing the Messiah!  And these things were necessary, in their understanding, when the Messiah came to reestablish the international glory of Jerusalem and the Jewish state!

And this same thing was the hope of the disciples when Jesus commented on the impossibility of the rich entering the Kingdom.  That’s why they were so astonished at His words.

But that is so completely opposite the Truth of the Gospel with regard to wealth and plenty.  Where the word “rich”, to the Jews, meant “full of the blessings of God on the virtuous,” Jesus said to the rich man that if he wished to be perfect, or full, he must sell all that he had, give it to the poor and follow Him.

You see, the real eschatological hope was the rebirth into Christ, for there is the location of virtue – not in man.  On the other hand, the entire philosophical base of the Jewish nation was that God blessed the virtuous with wealth and glory!

The flood, and the Exodus, and the entire sacrificial and ceremonial system, and the Law, and the prophets – all foreshadowed a new genesis for man in the Messiah of God!  The Day of the Lord was to be a re-genesis, a re-generation, of man in Adam; for this inability is with men.  But, in Israel, the wealth and the land and the heritage were as a result of the virtue of Israel!

The Judaistic view was that Israel was supposed to be glorious; it was her right!  It was her inherent goodness that merited God’s attention.  She was virtuous!

But the Gospel according to the Older Testament said no such thing.  It said that Israel received of God because of His mercy!  It also said that the Messiah of God would be a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and that He would empty Himself and lay down His life as a sacrifice in order that Israel might be reborn! – in order that Israel might have a new inheritance in the Messiah!

The New Testament Gospel says that same thing – as a continuation of the old.  In Christ is all the riches – or fullness – of things.  Christ is the rich, who is rich unto all who call upon Him.  And those in Him are rich in the wisdom and knowledge of God (Romans eleven, thirty-three).  The Word of Christ dwells richly in the Christian community (Colossians three, sixteen), which is rich in the poverty of Christ (Second Corinthians eight, verse nine), and which is made rich in every respect in Christ (First Corinthians one, five), and to which God has declared the riches of the glory of the mystery (Colossians one, verse twenty-seven).

God is rich in mercy; in Him the Church has the forgiveness of sin and depravity “according to the richness of His grace.”  And the Christian community knows, by the Spirit, what the riches of the glory of its inheritance – as it is reborn into Christ.

You see, from the beginning to the end the Scriptures preach the poverty and impotence and inability of man; and the necessity that he be re-created anew in Christ.  The wealth and glory of Israel, by the kindness and forbearance of God, was a foreshadowing of the coming richness of God’s mercy in Christ.  He is the rich.  But Israel was convinced of its own virtue – and its right to wealth and glory.  It would not see the coming mercy and grace of God in the promised Messiah!  It was so vain that it would not perceive the necessity of forgiveness and rebirth – preferring to see itself as worthy!

Our passage of Scripture is so critical because this rich man, in all his vanity and glory and self-dependance, represents all of Israel before Christ – expecting the wealth and glory because of its own virtue!  Israel would not see its own depravity; it would not put away its attachment to its wealth and its heritage; it would not recognize the redemption and new inheritance of the Messiah, Who was prophesied in the Law, because it preferred to reinterpret and pervert that Law for its own benefit (self-worth); it would have been incredible to them that Israel would have to be re-created – preferring the “old” one in all its personal glory.  In other words, this Israel, this world, this world order, this reality was ultimate.  The city, the nation, the temple, the land, the inheritance, the law, the system, the glory, the hope of future glory.  This was Israel’s philosophy.

The elect remnant of God had been ravaged by that world-view.  For them all hope of Israel was lost.  But God the Son found them.  And they would be the first-fruits of the new “genesis” of man in Christ.  They would be the New Israel created in the Messiah for the Glory of God.  And they would speak the Sword of the Spirit of Christ; and the new birth, and the new inheritance would be taken to the Gentile nations.  People all over the world would be re-born and made new creations, for the true inheritance had been purchased for them by a Redeemer sent from God!  From all over the earth they would leave the “old” and enter the new”! – the result being that the glory of “man in Adam” would be forsaken!  Man in Christ – purchased and redeemed by Him – for the glory of God!

This is the Kingdom of God – the Kingdom of Christ – the Kingdom of the Heavens:  man purchased by the Kinsman-Redeemer and re-birthed; removed from Adam’s world of self-glory (self-worth) and re-created by the Spirit of Christ for God’s glory!  That’s why a man, reborn into Christ, detests himself and the “old”, and turns his full, awakened attention to the thanksgiving and praise and glory of His Redeemer!

This young, rich man – the representative of all of Israel before Christ – would not do that.  The full attention of all of Israel was on this world-order and its own glory and virtue.  Regardless of the fact that the Kinsman-Redeemer had arrived at the Jordan River ready to purchase the redemption – Israel preferred its own dead glory.  It would not turn from it and forsake it and follow Christ into the “time of the rebirth”.  The re-generation.

Now I want to go back to the text for a while; and then I’ll make some more comments about what we’ve just said.  We worked our way through verse twenty-six last time, so now we’ll pick up with verse twenty-seven.  Let’s read these last four verses again:


“Then Peter, having been answered, said to Him, ‘Lo, we, we did forsake all and we followed You; what then will be for us?’  And Jesus said to them, ‘Amen I say to you that you who did follow Me in the new birth, when the Son of Man shall sit upon His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And all who did forsake households, or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wives or children or lands on account of My Name, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.  And many fists shall be lasts, and lasts firsts.’”


Having asked Jesus “then who can be saved?” and having received the answer that no one has that ability, Peter now refers back to Jesus’ demand that the rich man sell everything he had and follow Him.  He says, “Look at us, we left everything behind and followed You; what then will be for us?”

Jesus has said that no one has any ability to be saved, and that generated great anxiety in the disciples.  So they wanted to know what “following Jesus” would net them!  They didn’t yet know that they would follow Him right into His crucifixion and burial and resurrection!  But these men had left behind their fishing businesses (and other kinds of occupations), and, in some cases, their families, in order to be with Jesus; and in order to be in great conflict with the prevailing world order.  They had all suffered persecution while going from village to village, all over Israel, in order to preach and to find the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And although they still didn’t understand the ramifications of the “end of the age”, they were, indeed, following Jesus.

To them, forsaking (leaving behind) their businesses and land and families to be with Jesus was a great sacrifice – willingly endured – and if nobody had the ability to be saved, then why were they doing it?  What then was their reward going to be?  You see, their hope was to be close to God’s King when He came into power and when He reestablished the glory of Jerusalem!

But Jesus’ perception of “forsakenness” (or releasing, or sending off) was not quite the same as that of the disciples, was it?  He does not refer to their having left their businesses and families to be with Him.  He says, verse twenty-eight, that


“when the Son of Man shall sit on His glorious throne, you who did follow Me in the New Birth shall be judges of Israel”! 


This is different from what Peter asked, isn’t it?

“What then will be for you, Peter?”  When I sit on My throne, should you have followed Me in the new birth, you shall judge the nation!  And all who come after you in being reborn shall have an inheritance a hundred times better than that which they forsook (verse twenty-nine)!  And they won’t be dead any more – they shall live!  Their inheritance will no longer be that of their fathers, but it will be from Me!  Riches and wealth don’t come from your virtue.  They come from My virtue.

So our Lord’s perception of “forsaking” households, and wives, and children, and mothers and fathers, and lands is quite dissimilar to that which the apostles understand, isn’t it?  Although they did physically separate themselves, much of the time, from their households, Jesus was not speaking of that physical separation as being necessary in order to “follow Him”.

And, again, although the disciples did leave behind their livelihoods in order to follow Jesus, that’s not what merits their reward as “judges” over the nation!  Because Jesus didn’t say that.

What He said was that, at the time when He sat down at the throne of His inheritance, those of the twelve who did follow Him in the new birth shall be judges of the nation!  Twelve tribes of Israel and twelve apostles (eleven of these plus one – then Paul).  The sign of the new Israel.

Now that (following Him in the new birth) throws a new light on the word “to forsake”, doesn’t it?  If it doesn’t mean “going to another place to follow Christ and leaving behind your wife and your children and your house and your job and your parents”, then what does it mean?  It’s an important question, because some have actually done that in order to feel like they’ve obeyed Jesus; and many others feel guilty for not doing it when they’ve become believers!  That’s the stuff “cults” are made of, because the sign of a cult is the requirement that a new member separate himself from his parents and their authority, or his wife and children, and his property – and assign everything over to the cult – forsaking it all to follow the cultic “messiah”!

Now, that’s not to say that some things shouldn’t be forsaken, or left behind, upon becoming a believer. Our attachments to our sins ought to be despised and denied.  But the “forsaking” to which Jesus refers, here in verse twenty-nine, has to do with households, and family, and property, and heritage!

So let me reword it for you in order to bring out the meaning.  Verse twenty-nine: 


Those who, following the disciples, did forsake households and families and heritage and properties in the rebirth shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.  Life, and a hundredfold, shall be yours in the new inheritance upon being reborn into Christ!


Do you remember when Jesus was preparing his disciples to go out and find the lost sheep of Israel?  And he was warning them of the persecution and hardship and sorrow that would attach to those who followed Christ?  It was said, there in chapter ten, that that persecution would come, at least in part, from family members!  Because in one who has been reborn into Christ there is a new inheritance – a new family – new mankind – a new Kingdom – a new world order!  There is life, where before there was death.  There is Light, where before there was darkness.  There is Christ, where before there was Adam.

Remember when Jesus was approached by His mother and brothers and sisters while healing the sick and confronting the Pharisees?  He responded by saying,


“Who is my mother and my brothers?” 


The implication there, of course, is that, in the regeneration, in the new birth, there is a new creation which is no longer of the “seed” of Adam, but of the “seed” of Christ!  Peter speaks in those terms in First Peter chapter one, at verse twenty-three.  And Paul does that same thing in Galatians chapter three.

So the “forsaking” that Jesus speaks of in verse twenty-nine of our text has to do with being reborn.  Upon regeneration, the old is cast away and all things become new!  Should one be made a new creation in Christ, he is given a new heritage and inheritance.  He becomes “of a different seed”.  He leaves the old world order and enters the New Kingdom of Christ!  And, by necessity, the old “seed relationships” and the old possessions and the old affinities and alliances and intimacies are forever changed!

A new-born wife and unbelieving husband will never again experience the same thorough-going interconnectedness that was once there; a believer with unbelieving parents will never again experience the familial ties of heritage and blood that before existed; a believing brother will no longer have the same “seed relationship” with his unbelieving brother that he once had.  And there will always be terrible enmity generated by an unbelieving child towards its regenerate parents!

That is inevitable.  Because one “rebirthed” into Christ leaves the heritage and world of the unbeliever to be created anew and united to Christ.  He puts it away; he releases it; he sends it off; he leaves it behind – he forsakes it.


“And all who did forsake (leave behind) households, or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wives or children or lands on account of My Name, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.”


Being united to Christ, and being a joint heir to His inheritance, and having eternal life, and having a brotherhood of believers is of infinitely greater value than are the relationships which accrue to unbelievers in this world order.  And when two, or an entire family of “seed relationships” are also united to Christ, then the joy of union in Christ, which already is unsurpassable, becomes filled with thanksgiving and praise to a gracious and merciful God.

But being reborn into Christ changes one’s relationships with, and attachments to, and connectedness to, the entire world order.  It is “forsaken”, or left behind.  Those things no longer “mean” the same things.  On the opposite side of that, an “old world”, depraved, connectedness with self-worth, and heritage, and possessions, and hedonism belies any confession of faith in Jesus Christ.

I intended to go much further in making comments concerning these things, but we’ll save that until next Lord’s Day; and we’ll also come to verse thirty (maybe) which actually belongs at the head of chapter twenty – even though it is related, integrally, to the whole of Christ’s teaching here concerning rebirth into the Kingdom.