Matthew 19: 23-30
28 Yeshua said to them, “Yes. I tell you that in the regenerated world, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Isra’el. 29 Everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times more, and he will obtain eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
The word is “palingenesia” which is translated, ‘a new birth (rebirth), regeneration, renovation. The word for “world”—“kosmos”— doesn’t appear in the Greek text.
Also, as far as I can tell, the words for “glorious throne” in the text are meant to refer to the mercy seat, the space above and between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, the “Kisei Kavod” (‘Throne of Glory’ in Hebrew) where God’s presence manifests itself to human beings. There is also a reference in Hebrews 9 that implies that Christ’s sacrifice established the New Covenant, and the Holy of Holies which he entered as High Priest was one “not made with hands” but actually ‘Heaven’— the Abode of God. That would make the crucifixion the moment of regeneration, the eternal moment in which Christ sits on the Mercy Seat as his Throne of Glory, and the great Rebirth takes place.
So, Jesus’s response to Peter asking, “What do we get out of it?” is essentially the same answer that he gives throughout the Gospel: “You get to die and be reborn.” Christ’s throne isn’t made of hard, cold, earthly gold, instead it’s the holy and eternal place of forgiveness, of renewal, of rebirth.
“Everyone who has deserted homes, family, and livelihoods for my name’s sake will receive a hundred times that and inherit eternal life.” In the very moment of abandoning what we love, we receive a hundred times more than what we left behind, and in our abandoning and receiving; our giving and getting, is Life Eternal in this present moment.
He’s telling the disciples, “It’s not what you think!” “Much that is first becomes last, and what is last, first.” In other words Jesus says, “You’ve got it all out of order!” It’s not that Christ will be crowned King in some imagined future and reward his faithful retainers with goods, land, titles and renown. We don’t get to lord it over anyone, ever. No, we get to die and be reborn, sit down in the throne of forgiveness, and take up the responsibility of guides and guardians over the trusting people of God, in the Realm of God, which is right here and right now, and always has been.
It won’t come later; it comes Now, and what’s now is the same as what comes later!
We live reborn—
at the threshold
First and last—