What Jesus Meant In The Bible When He Said “The First Shall Be The Last”
Jesus’ messages to His disciples are usually centered upon the reality of the kingdom of God so that, in like manner, the disciples’ hearts will be focused on the principles and blessings of the Kingdom.
While teaching His disciples, Jesus had reiterated one of His most misunderstood statements to His disciples. He reminded them that “…the first shall be the last; and the last shall be the first”.
1. Jesus was teaching His disciples about the reality of how God solely and independently bestows His grace and calling on people. In Matthew 20:1–16, where Jesus had specifically used the same statement in respect to those who work or labour for God, He teaches that it is God—not the labourers—who recruit men into His vineyard. It is not of any man’s design or arrangements.
2. Jesus also meant that when much has been given to anyone, much will be expected from them. This was why in the His teachings (Matthew 20:1–16), He mentioned that the householder (God) had recruited some worker “in the early hours of the morning” and some others, “at the eleventh hour.’
3. That the last will be the first, and vice versa, Jesus meant that the reward for the last set of labourers will be equal to the reward of the first because if the last too had been opportunned to meet the Lord as the first set had met Him, they too would have started working, as that was clear from their comments in verse 7. This statement of Jesus was not about prejudice or injustice but about the matter of God’s timing and peculiar purpose for each one of us. Each of the workers in God’s vineyard have their own time and season, and it is God’s business to determine where and when He wants each person to function for His glory.
So, like John responded that he was just a voice to speak about the kingdom ahead of Jesus, and that he was not the Messiah, so also does God give each person their appropriate calling, yet with the same reward if they are all faithful to their assignments.
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