The Last Shall Be First and the First Last
This saying of Jesus is repeated a few times in the Gospels, but do we really understand what he was saying?
In Mark chapter 9, a dispute is going on among the disciples as to who would be the greatest of them.
Verse 35: And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith to them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
Jesus then goes on to discuss what that service would entail. This is echoed in Matthew 25:31-46.
Christians Believe They Are Special in God’s Sight
But the Scriptures point out in many different ways that being a nominal Christian is not a spiritual advantage. Jesus is saying that belief is not enough, there must be action, too.
In fact, the verse indicated at the beginning of this post is actually the ending of his teaching lesson that Jesus gives about ranking within his disciples. It can be seen as speaking to the rest of his followers, too, even unto the present time.
So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
This story can be found in Matthew, chapter 20. It describes a situation where labourers are needed for the harvest, and the ones hired at the beginning complain when late arrivals are paid exactly the same wages as they are. The lord of the vineyard says that every person he hired agreed to be paid the same wage, no matter how little or how much they did. Implied: their reward in heaven will be the same.
This hearkens back to the Prodigal Son story. The brother that had always been with his father resented that his wastrel brother was treated so royally when he returned home. It is as if being faithful for so long should earn a better reward. It doesn’t work that way.
Eternal life is guaranteed for all. There is nothing greater than eternity.