The religious leaders thought themselves the best in Israel, but Jesus told them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31). You see, the religious thought themselves righteous and God needed them. The ones on the bottom know better. It is not God who needs, but us, and sinners need a Savior.
Sometimes, when we were kids, my dad played street football with us. He was the quarterback and he drove us crazy. The best players were the first chosen, of course, and my dad would send all the best running to the right with the best defenders in tow, then toss the ball left to Billy. Billy had been chosen last and was undefended. Touchdown Billy! My dad had this annoying habit of making winners of the kids chosen last.
“Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.” ~Matthew 20:15-16
This smacks of Jesus, who likewise dismayed his disciples. In his kingdom, “the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). Not sure what that meant, a couple disciples tried to come out on top the conventional way. James and John, the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17–and a great football nickname, by the way), coaxed their mom to approach Jesus, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom” (Matthew 20:21). Jesus, instead, explained, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. It shall not be so among you” (Matthew 20:25-26). One way to know if you are living like Jesus is to look around and see who wins and loses when you are in charge.
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~Matthew 20:28
Heavenly Father, I do not deserve Your grace. Of course, I don’t. It wouldn’t be grace if I deserved it. You have so much love for me, and for all of us, and You never run short of grace. There is enough for all. Even the thief on the cross, who came into Your kingdom just in time.
I know I don’t deserve the riches of Your Kingdom, but I’m thrilled that they are mine. I look forward to eternity, to being in Your presence, being in Your Kingdom, being Your child, co-heir with Jesus Christ, sharing in His glory.