What does that really mean, “The Last Shall Be First”? All Week God has had me on the lesson plan of “Work” with Jesus Parable of the Day Laborers or as some say The Workers in the Vineyard. It’s just not fair is it? Here is the Parable Matthew 20:1-16
“For the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household, who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the workers for a denarius per day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing in the marketplace, idle. And to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and I’ll give you whatever is right.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour and did the same. And about the eleventh hour, he went out and found others standing around. And he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle the whole day?’
“‘Because no one hired us,’ they said to him.
“He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard, too.’
“Now when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last to the first.’ And those who had come about the eleventh hour each received a denarius. And when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; yet they too received a denarius.
“But when they received it, they began to grumble against the master of the house, saying, ‘These last guys did one hour, and you’ve made them equal to us, who bore the burden and scorching heat of the day!’
“But answering, he said to one of them, ‘Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius? Take what is yours and go. But I want to give this last guy the same as you. Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’
“So the last will be first, and the first last.”
Provoking isn’t it. Worth meditation, by all means, as so much of our lives are devoted to our work. Here is the way many look at work in our culture listen to this work montage.
With that point of view, essentially, “I’m taken what they’re given cause I’m workin for a livin”. That parable brings anger and disbelief, that, Jesus, God, would say such a thing, and then to finish with “the first will be last and the last will be first”! What the heck?
Then I started thinking how bad it feels to be unemployed verses how good it feels to do a job well and find myself achieving or doing more than I thought I could. Finding out that I really can do things, I am not lazy or ineffective, especially work with my own hands. It actually answers a core question for men according to John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, the question: “Do I Have What It Takes”?
I would also ad that the workers who came early in the morning had the joy of working with a good boss and other diligent workers rather than sitting wondering if they would get work that day. Those who came later and later had worse days in my view with the worst being those who didn’t find work until the last hour. Those who go to work with this adventure and battle point of view, listen to this montage.
Forgetting pay for just a minute, this being the Thanksgiving season think about how much work goes into a Turkey Thanksgiving dinner. Is not a big part of the Joy of the season in the cleaning, and chopping, boiling and peeling and roasting with dear ones; some times sons and daughters or mothers and fathers. I know it is for me and the legendary time I forgot to put the sugar in the pumpkin pie is a point of fellowship and hilarity in my family to this day.
Working has its rewards, many, many in my view and those guys who came first may have gotten paid last but there is so much more to life and life abundantly than the monetary compensation.
Before I move on to a further explanation of the last will be first, think about the great bosses God has placed in your life. My guess is you felt appreciated, favored, (That’s Grace, Jesus is full of that). They told you the truth, (that’s the other thing Jesus is full of). Those bosses would also be generous (Ephesians 4:8, Jesus gave gifts to men). Gift means you don’t earn it. PAY IS NOT BASED ON WHAT YOU DO with a generous boss. You can’t earn a gift. So I often feel God telling me, “STOP STRIVING!!!” Come close let’s do this together, I’ll take you the fun way, the way of adventure and beauty and battle, but with Me you can’t lose.”
Theologically I believe “the last will be first and the first will be last” was originally meant for the disciples to understand that though the Jews got there first they would as a group be the last to come into the Kingdom, mostly because they felt they earned it.
At another level yes many can accept Jesus as their savoir on their death bed and they will get to heaven even though they were last to accept Christ. The sad aspect of that or even in my own story I didn’t receive Christ until I was 36 years old and so I missed the joy of working for the ultimate boss in the ultimate vineyard with other brothers and sisters for 36 YEARS.
The other cool thing about all this is the envy and jealousy aspect. Jesus is digging into my eye, how I see things, through the self filter or the God filter or the Good Filter. Jesus has giving phenomenal gifts to people who hardly seem worthy through my self filter. Yet through the God filter I can see the good boss leading a worker to a higher work ethic by paying him at the level he knows he can work at, God has done that in my life, He has given me gifts way beyond anything I could possibly have earned knowing that He made me in His image and I do have what it takes.
With all that I am so glad that the last will be first as I don’t want anyone to miss out. Accept the Good Boss TODAY!! http://christiancarguy.com/how-to-know-god-personally/