39 wives, 94 children, 33 grandchildren – not even half what Jesus promises!



Mark 10:28-31 (CEB)

Peter said to him, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you.”

Jesus said, “I assure you that anyone who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms because of me and because of the good news will receive one hundred times as much now in this life—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and farms (with harassment)—and in the coming age, eternal life. But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first.”

The picture is Mr Ziona Chana.  He says: ‘Today I feel like God’s special child. He’s given me so many people to look after. ‘I consider myself a lucky man to be the husband of 39 women and head of the world’s largest family.’

The family is organised with almost military discipline, with the oldest wife Zathiangi organising her fellow partners to perform household chores such as cleaning, washing and preparing meals. 

One evening meal can see them pluck 30 chickens, peel 132lb of potatoes and boil up to 220lb of rice. Coincidentally, Mr Chana is also head of a sect that allows members to take as many wives as he wants. 



A more intimate shot of him and the missus-es

Jesus is doing what he does well – hyperbole!  If you have left your mother – you don’t want 100 mothers; if you have left your children – you don’t want 100 times the number of children you used to have – in this life OR the next!  The episode is a bit Job-esque – where the story seems to assume a happy ending because Job gets replacement wife (presumably more beautiful than the last) and more (better) children and a bigger house etc… I think there is a danger here…  Peter says that the disciples have left everything and Jesus responds that it’ll be worth it because they will receive 100-fold in THIS life – specifically,. women, kids, houses, farms…  he can’t mean that, surely?  For one thing, that’s not what happened!

So what did he mean?

This might be a stretch – but go with it, it is working for me today!

Maybe Jesus is saying that if we sit light to these things, if we don’t idolise them, if we don’t make them out to be the things around our whole existence depends and revolves, if we are prepared to “let them go” – then we will find that we haven’t lost them at all, in fact they now shine all the brighter so that they seem 100times more valuable than they were before.

If we set these things in the context of our discipleship and our belonging in the Kingdom of God, then they become an even bigger source of joy than we ever imagined…  100-fold…

When I live my life as I should in the Kingdom of God – when I live my life as a disciple, then the quality of my life is such that I appreciate the priceless gift that my children are more than I ever did…

I’m not sure I have totally grasped this yet – but I think there is something to be prized out of that!  But it’s half past eleven now and it’s been a long day – so I’m off to bed!  Nighty-night!

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