But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. (v. 31)
“Who was the line leader today?” I asked my young son. Last year in kindergarten, whoever was the first at something became the major headline of the day. I was surprised to learn that in first grade there was no daily line leader. My son explained that no one fussed or argued about whose turn it was to be first for the day, because they lined up at their classroom door in a different way. “Everyone gets a number,” he said. “Everyone gets their own spot.”
I wondered how he felt about not having the chance to be at the front of the line, since being first is an exciting delight sometimes. He said he simply listened for “numbers six through ten” to be called out, and he knew he had a place to stand. There is much to be said for the certainty of knowing you have a place.
I’m afraid that when it comes to following Jesus, I favor the “line leader” approach. I’m more like Peter in this text, and less like my content and happy first grader. Peter begins by arguing that he has certainly earned his place in God’s kingdom, saying, “Look, we have left everything and followed you” (v. 28). But Jesus is dismantling the system Peter is using to determine who deserves what. Instead, he says, the first is last and the last is first. Everyone is counted and everyone has a place in the kingdom of God. Thanks be to God.
How could these words from Jesus help you to feel more content?
Gracious, welcoming God, lead us to see the ways that everyone is counted and each of us matters in your kingdom. Amen.