The first will be last… and the last will be first.
This is one of the core statements of Jesus’ teaching. This is supposed to be ‘Good News’… but is it?
Well, if we can define ourselves as ‘ the last’ or ‘the least’ then it is Good News… because it means that life can only get better. But, if we have strived and reached the ‘first’ places in the world then it might not be, on first hearing, Good News… because it means that our achievements don’t have lasting value or security.
I think we all experience this. Changing times, circumstances, aging, and challenges from ‘someone better’ makes it painfully clear that being ‘top dog’ cannot last forever. We started out as frail, small, defenseless baby humans… and we end up as frail, small, defenseless eldery (or sick) humans. All that stuff we do between the two is just temporary.
The wisdom of Jesus reminds us that God’s will and plan is for all people to receive renewal, health, wellness, joy, peace, salvation and eternal life. But these things are not achieved by something WE do… they are given by God to those who seek after God, love God, and love others. In our worldly world we have to ‘look after #1’, ‘step on toes’, and ‘claw our way to the top’. It is brutal, selfish… and fleeting.
No wonder Jesus says the first will be last.