Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31, 2012 … Why are the last, first and the first, last?

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 305

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Matthew, Chapters 20-21 To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passages: Matthew 20: 1-16; 20-28: [NLT] … { Go the link above at the outset of Matt 20 to read the parable of vineyard workers, which tells of those who can/will be granted entrance to God’s heaven. This message about salvation is a hard lesson. Don’t we so often become jealous for what others have been given in life? … Then there is the story of John’s/James’ mother asking for special kingdom favor in verses 20-28, with Jesus relating much the same value that the last will be first. } ... 
15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be angry because I am kind?’ 16 “And so it is, that many who are first now will be last then; and those who are last now will be first then.” … 
24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked [i.e., special favor in heaven], they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. 26 But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. 28 For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” 
Highlight Passages: Mark 21: 28-32 : [NLT] … { Here, as Matthew described Jesus being in Jerusalem during the Passover week of His time of passion, He was challenged by the religious authorities and related a story, which dumbfounded the Pharisees and was a hard saying for all to consume – that all, no matter how bad their lives had been, would enter God’s kingdom if they just believed in Him. } ... 
28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. 31Which of the two was obeying his father?” They replied, “The first, of course.” Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I assure you, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the way to life, and you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to turn from your sins and believe him.”

My Journal for Today: Here, in these two chapters of Matthew, Jesus is heading down the final stretch of His earthly ministry and even coming to Jerusalem for His final Passover celebration, triumphantly entering the Temple on what we now celebrate as “Palm Sunday.” But we know that in His final week on earth things were going to deteriorate; and many of those who were lauding Jesus as “Messiah” as He entered the City of David that week would be crying for His crucifixion just a few days later.

And in Matthew’s account of those days in Chapter 20-21 we read of Jesus coming down the road of His earthly teaching with some very hard lessons, not the least of which is a truth that even devoted believers have trouble internalizing; and that is the truth that the last will be first and the first will be last. And there is one vignette in Matt 20: 20-28 which illustrates this truth.

In this passage the mother of the “Sons of Thunder,” James and John, two of Jesus’ inner core of Disciples, came to Jesus and asked for a special place to be granted by Jesus when they were in heaven with Him. Certainly this request illustrated that this mother truly believed that Jesus was The Messiah; but she still was dealing with her very human default of wanting her boys to have favor over the other followers of Jesus. And Jesus taught them all that God’s gift of grace was for ALL and that the least of all would take the first place with Him in heaven.

Personally, this is one of the real hard lessons for my humanity to internalize. I can see the truth intellectually; but so often my humanity overwhelms my humility; and my pride strikes out and desires reward for me asserting myself to go to the head of the class. All my life, one of my weaknesses has been trying to excel so that I could be seen as one of the “first” … and one of the “best.” And now, I must accept the truth that others who declare themselves to be the least will be the first in God’s kingdom economy. It’s a hard truth, which I accept in my mind … but to which I must continue to aspire in my heart.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, help me to surrender to Your grace and continue to serve You with no expectations of glory in the serving. Amen

No comments: