Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother tor wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
This is an interesting passage of scripture. Jesus says very plainly that those who have left all these things will surely receive a hundred-fold. That’s an oddly confident statement about something that our experience doesn’t bear out. Meaning; Jesus said it, so it must be true, but we can’t look at history and say it’s been true. So what did He mean?
There’s only two good explanations: what Jesus meant was “spiritual” in nature (or figurative–not literal), or He meant it literally and it was yet to come. I believe they’re both true.
I think there was a wink in Jesus’ eye when He said that everyone of those there would receive a hundred-fold houses, fields, fathers, children, etc. The disciples (later called apostles) there would soon learn that they would be welcomed into homes in almost any city in the Roman world. Within a generation the entire landscape of the known world was changed and there weren’t many places they could go without finding a believer in a city (Romans 15:19). So, in that way, those there when Jesus spoke this did inherit a hundred-fold of all these things, in a figurative sense. They could be welcomed into homes anywhere they went, eat of fields in a hundred different cities and they had brothers, sisters, fathers and children, spiritually, in their new Christian family.
And when Jesus said that, I think He meant it that way. But I think He meant it literally, too.
Jesus didn’t promise those there that anyone who left all these things would receive them in this life, but rather in this age. That word is an important distinction that Jesus meant just like that. He was being technical in His language, if you will. If Jesus meant this life, then the only understanding of this passage would be figurative, because none of the apostles, as far as we know, received any of these things except the persecutions in their lifetimes. But life is not the word Jesus used. He said age.
Age means something totally different to us when Jesus uses it here.
First, let’s understand what the ages are. Jesus spoke here of this age, and the age to come. In God’s mind, there are two ages. That which exists now, and that which will come and last forever. We are currently in a temporary age, which will conclude when we enter into the eternal state. From Revelation 20-21 we understand that this age does not end when Jesus returns, but rather at the end of the millennial (1,000 year) reign of Jesus, 1,000 years after He returns.
This is important to understand because what Jesus was promising His disciples, and us, was that if we leave all these things, we’ll not only receive a hundred-fold of all those things figuratively speaking, but literally. When He raises us to eternal life, He promises that we will reign with Him on the earth for that 1,000 years after He returns to earth (Revelation 20:4). So, those who have left all these things in this life, will certainly receive a hundred-fold, literally, in this age during the millennial kingdom of Jesus. If you’ve left a house for the sake of the gospel, you’ll receive a hundred homes in the 1,000 years. This may not mean exactly 100 homes, but rather “a lot more” than what we had now. It may mean 100, or it may mean 1,000,000, we don’t really know that for sure. What we do know for sure is that we will reign with Jesus during the 1,000 years, and He will certainly give us governance over things like homes, fields, families, etc. then.
So Jesus does not only mean spiritual riches He will give us, but He means physical riches when He returns and is granted physical riches at the end of “this age.”