Chan Gin Kai
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters 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.”
When the crowd learnt that even the young ruler’s devout obedience of the commandments was not enough to earn him eternal life because all it takes is one fatal flaw to stumble him, they asked who then can be saved? Jesus explained that though it is impossible for us to gain our salvation through our own efforts, it is possible through God.
When it comes to salvation, all that we’ve done is adequate, all that we’ve sacrificed is insufficient.
Questions flashed through Peter’s panicked mind... How about all that I’ve done? And all those things I’ve given up? They’ve not made me worthy and they can do nothing to save me. So do they matter to Jesus? Are my sacrifices noticed? Does Jesus even appreciate all that I’ve done for him?
Peter said in dismay, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
Peter must have felt as confused as he felt hurt. He reminded Jesus about all he had sacrificed to follow him. Really, did Jesus need that reminder? Of course not. But Peter needed his assurance.
Don’t we all need assurances from God sometimes?
Yes, what we do absolutely matters to God.
God sees the sacrifices we make for His Kingdom. He appreciates the deeds we do for His glory. He values our heart. The things we do in the name of Jesus may not earn us our salvation, but that doesn’t mean they’re not treasured by God. He cherishes all that we do for Him.
My nephews and nieces have occasionally shared their snacks with me, putting crackers and sweets in my mouth with their little hands. These morsels don’t sate my hunger. I can easily feed myself too. And I do not need these adorable acts to love my nephews and nieces more. But do I enjoy these tender little moments? Absolutely!
That’s how God feels about what we do too. He doesn’t need us to sacrifice or do anything for him. But He enjoys what we do for Him because He loves us.
Jesus assured Peter, saying that God sees all who have made sacrifices “for the sake of the kingdom of God” and that they will be richly rewarded.
Instead of simply enjoying Jesus’ assurance, some people focus on Jesus’ statement that we will “receive many times more”. An assurance that God recognises our efforts gets twisted into a pledge of a return on investment. Acts of love and appreciation get vulgarised into transactions. The message of Christ becomes a materialistic “gospel” of health and wealth.
Imagine my nephews and nieces wondering if I will reward them for sharing their snacks... Will I get a bigger box of chocolates in return? Will I get a pat on the head or a Lego set? No, they don’t see their relationship with me as a transaction; they’ve got much purer hearts than we do.
God enjoys the things that what we do and give up for Him. Jesus assures us that they are noticed, and that God will bless us too. A relationship of love between God and us... Is that enough assurance for you?
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.