Rowland Croucher writes:

The First and the Last

"The last will be first, and the first will be last." Matthew 20:16.
So who are the 'first' and the 'last' in Jesus' story? Are the Jews first, because they came into God's vineyard earlier, but because they rejected God's Messiah will be 'last'? Maybe: this is a recurring theme in Jesus' teaching... The early disciples, as they preached this parable might have told their hearers that they, as 'latercomers' were privileged too... Does it refer to those who have been Christians for a long time versus those who make a deathbed repentance? Perhaps. Certainly there is a warning implied here against those who have been in the church long enough to have a sense of 'ownership' and who reject methods of communicating the gospel in word or song to reach younger people - a common problem with pre-TV conservatives versus post-TV 'babyboomers' and young people.

The deeper - and more general - issues have to do with 'service' and 'grace'. William Barclay summarizes it well in his commentary: God does not look at the amount of our service. So long as our service is all we have to give, all service ranks the same with God. And all God gives is of grace. We cannot earn what God gives us; we cannot deserve it; we cannot put God in our debt; what God gives to us is given out of the goodness of his heart, out of his grace; what God gives is not pay, but a gift; not a reward, but a grace.

Lord, may I serve you willingly and gladly, not counting either the cost or the reward, but from the motive of pure love. Amen.


Copyright & copy; 1996 Rowland Croucher. All rights reserved. May be freely used and reproduced by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided all copyright information is included. May be resent only with copyright, authorship and contact information intact.

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