Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: servant kings

Suffering leads to...eternal rewards?

A consistent theme in the New Testament is the suffering of believers, along with the rich rewards for those who persevere under suffering because of their identification with Christ.  Later in life, Peter addressed this topic:

1 Peter 4:12-19
Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you.  Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when His glory is revealed.  

If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you…if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in having that name…so then, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator while doing what is good.

Throughout his letter, the type of suffering Peter says is commendable before God is the suffering we encounter because we are identifying with Christ.  Within this context, the phrase “God’s will” would be that believers are conformed to Christ’s example through suffering.  Peter is encouraging his readers to remember that as they are insulted (or worse) for being a Christian, they are to persevere through…so that this suffering will make them more like Christ.

Then Peter turns his attention to the church elders.  Not only do we hear the echo of Christ’s teaching, but we see how the concepts of suffering, serving, and perseverance all come together in eternity future:

1 Peter 5:1-4
I exhort the elders among you as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory about to be revealed: Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but willingly, as God would have you; not out of greed for money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Crowns in the ancient world were symbols of authority and of rulership.  When one was bestowed, certain rights and privileges were obtained – whether it was the victor’s crown in the Olympics or the Caesar’s crown in Rome.  The crowns that Christ will reward to believers who have served will likely represent a level of authority in Christ’s future kingdom.  What we do know for sure is that these crowns will be used as symbols of worship as they are removed and placed at Jesus’ feet (Revelation 4:9-10)…and this fits with the eternal concept of all authority in Heaven and on Earth being subject to Christ.

Revelation 22:3-5
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will worship Him…and they will reign forever and ever.

Those who have served, suffered, and persevered in this life…who else would be qualified to reign in Christ’s kingdom? Who else would be most likely to rule like Jesus?

Only His Servant Kings.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Authority in Eternity

We saw last time that Jesus promised Peter a reward of authority in the next life as a result of the sacrificial choices that he and the other disciples made as they followed Jesus here on Earth.  A cursory look through the gospel accounts reveals that the disciples frequently talked about their part in eternity future…however, most of the time they ended up arguing about who would be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom.

The argument about it even came up again, of all times, during the Last Supper.  Jesus even had to step in and correct their focus:

Luke 22:24-27
Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest.  But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them have themselves called ‘Benefactors.’  It is not to be like that among you.  On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you should become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving.  For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving?  Isn’t it the one at the table?  But I am among you as the one who serves.”

Once again, Jesus did not rebuke them for discussing – or even arguing about – levels of authority in His future kingdom.  Since He didn’t even address that part of their discussion, Jesus confirmed that the subject matter they were discussing was, in fact, a reality: there will be varying rewards and levels of authority in Christ’s kingdom!

Instead, Jesus corrected their assumption that those who are high up on the food chain now will also be the ones who later obtain the higher authority in Christ’s kingdom.

Jesus was quite clear when he pointed to Himself as the example.  If anyone had the right to claim greatness on earth, Jesus did above all others.  However, what He chose to do with His authority did not match the disciples’ expectation.  Jesus’ rightful seat was at the head of every table; however, He chose to be among you as one who serves.

To make sure the disciples understood this change in perspective, He continued:

Luke 22:28-30
You are those who stood by Me in My trials.  I bestow on you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one on Me, so that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom.  And you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Standing with Christ in His trials proves that they have understood the importance of imitating Christ’s choice of service enough to make serving others their priority over everything else.  The reward for this choice is clearly greater than any authority they could lord over others in this life.

And as John tells us in Revelation, we have the opportunity to make the same choice as the disciples:

Revelation 22:3-5
…The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will worship Him…and they will reign forever and ever.

Serve now, rule later…as Servant Kings.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

The greatest reward possible

Assuming you had the necessary skills and the opportunity, what is the biggest earthly prize you would aspire to?

Maybe it’s directing the highest grossing movie of all time…or Quarterbacking your favorite team to a Super Bowl victory…or building a business up from your garage into a global empire…or perhaps you are content to win the lottery and retire to a private island.  What would be “the ultimate prize” for you?

How does thinking about this feel?  Scary?  Overwhelming?  Unrealistic?

As those who believe in Jesus for eternal life, we know this present life will continue on with Him into Eternity Future.  While there are big dreams and opportunities to be had here and now…we should also wonder if there are eternal opportunities that God has made available to us.  In God’s revelation to John, He reveals a big one:

Revelation 22:3-5
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will worship Him.  They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever.

They will reign.

Those words carry a weight to them, and they should.  To reign means that a person has obtained or has been given the authority to rule, to lead, and to preside over the lives of others.  While we fully expect Jesus to reign in Heaven and over all creation…John tells us that in addition to Jesus, His servants will reign.

Servant Kings.

Those words don’t seem to go together, but it is exactly what Christ taught to His disciples.

At one point, Peter struggled with comparing the life he left behind with his choice to follow Jesus as a disciple.  He could have believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, continued to work the family business as a fisherman, and still gone to Heaven.  What Peter struggled with was seeing the tangible benefits to accepting Christ’s invitation to intimately follow Him in Discipleship, to living his earthly life learning how to imitate Christ.  Let’s drop into their conversation:

Matthew 19:27-28
Then Peter responded to Him, “See, we have left everything and followed You.  So what will there be for us?”  Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, in 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.”

Notice that Jesus does not rebuke Peter for asking this kind of “What’s the reward?” question.  Jesus replies that there is a reward – a reward of authority – to those who have followed him.  Jesus didn’t say that this magnitude of a reward was available to everyone who believes…rather those who will be great at the renewal of all things are those who, after believing, have spent their earthly lives learning how to imitate Christ.

Learning to imitate Christ, the greatest example of a Servant King, is what will qualify His servants to reign forever and ever.

You and I have the necessary skills and the opportunity to do the same.  Will we follow Christ now so that we, too, can become Servant Kings in eternity future?

Keep Pressing,
Ken