Last to First

Read: Matthew 20:1-16
The St. Louis Blue’s are this years Stanley Cup Champions of the National Hockey League.  This was their first championship since coming into the league in 1967. However, back in the first week of January this result did not seem even remotely possible.  On January 3rd the Blue’s were in last place and had the worst record in the NHL. A coaching change was made, some lineup adjustments were made, and a new attitude and perspective carried the team from last to first.
This last to first story in the world of sports reminds us of a parable that Jesus told in Matthew 20 about the workers in the vineyard.  The one difference is that Jesus is speaking about salvation instead of rewards. I encourage you to read the parable yourself because the premise of what Jesus is teaching should resonate with everyone.  God’s generous grace is for all, not just those whom the world labels successful.
While it is good and fine to celebrate hard work, success, and achievement in life we must never equate those things with the grace and forgiveness of Jesus.  In our most difficult hours of life Jesus picks us up, dusts us off, and says, “I care about you, I love you, and I forgive you, come walk in the newness of life that I provide for you.”  At the end of the parable, in verse 16, Jesus makes this new way clear by stating, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Those words are simply proclaiming that God’s kingdom has a different way of seeing things in the world.  Much of the time it turns the world’s system upside down. Jesus is telling this parable to teach that things may not always seem fair when talking about the grace of God.  He is also teaching that grace and forgiveness is not something to be earned, it is a gift of God found through his Son Jesus Christ. Even those who are last in the eyes of the world are first in the eyes of Jesus.
Make it Personal:  Is it sometimes hard for you to accept that God will forgive anyone and everyone who comes to him with a repentant heart?  Our flesh often screams out about what is fair, right, or just. Instead of harboring ill will in your life try focusing on the gracious benefits God has given to you personally.  Be thankful that you too can be one of the forgiven in Jesus Christ despite your past or present situation.
Have a great week everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes