“Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life.” – Matthew 19:29 (NKJV)
Only those who leave homes and families for Jesus Christ will be rewarded, in this life and in the next (Matthew 19:29). Only those who do God’s will are our brothers, sisters, and mothers (12:50). This is the family of God, tied together spiritually by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.
Yet how many of us can walk away from the only home and family we’ve known for the gospel? If our birth family or spouse is cruel, leaving is easy. If they’re kind, even if unbelieving, it’s hard. Some have obeyed Jesus and left. Others have not.
Abraham left his birth home and family to follow God (Genesis 12:1-4, 13:9-12). Rebekah left her birth home and family to marry Isaac (24:54-61). Leah and Rachel left their father Laban to be with Jacob and their children (31:14-17). Ruth left her birth home and family to follow her mother-in-law Naomi (Ruth 1:15-18). Jonathan, son of the apostate King Saul, made a covenant of friendship with David (1 Samuel 18:1-5, 20:12-16, 42). Peter, Andrew, James, and John left their families and livelihoods to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22). When later asked if he wanted to leave, Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68). Once healed of his blindness, Bartimaeus left everything to follow Jesus (Mark 10:50-52). He knew he didn’t need to live as a beggar anymore. Paul was willing to be cursed in hell forever for his brothers in the flesh, unbelieving Jews (Romans 9:3). He still chose Christ.
All these people are considered heroes of faith, “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38). They “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (11:26). Moses even told God, “We shall be separate, your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth” (Exodus 33:16). The young rich man, however, could not count the cost of following Jesus (Luke 14:28). He clung to his riches (Matthew 19:21-22).
My grandfather understood the cost after he was saved as a young man in the Navy. He left his birth family for the gospel and never looked back. He knew they were sinners and wanted nothing to do with them. My grandmother was different. She clung to her birth family after she married, even though they were sinners who treated her husband and children as outsiders. My grandmother didn’t understand the cost of following Jesus. She certainly never paid it.
Yesterday I talked to a young man whose brother is gay. He refuses to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ – the new birth of a soul through repentance and faith. This man talks about love but avoids judgment. As a result, he is willing to go to hell for his brother. This sad situation isn’t unique. Others are refusing the gospel for the sake of a gay family member or friend. When they have to choose between Jesus and family, family comes first. They don’t know the “pearl of great price” that they’re giving up (Matthew 13:46). Some of them don’t care.
Who will count the cost today? Who will say ‘yes’ to Jesus and the gospel? Who will leave their birth home and family forever and cling to the family of God? Eternal life is the prize.