1 March 2011Mark 10:28-31
"But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first." (v. 31)
Peter had heard the conversation between Jesus and the young rich man. He was baffled
by the turn of the conversation. He wanted to know what he and the
other disciples, who had 'left everything', had let themselves in
As so often happened Jesus' reply was double-edged and not that easy to understand. Yes, those who have left family and possessions would receive back a hundredfold in terms of the large and ever-expanding family of their fellow disciples and the many homes where they would be made welcome. But Jesus never pulled his punches; they should know that persecution would be an inevitable part of their discipleship (see verse 30).
Jesus is trying to help his disciples to see that in the "age to come" (verse 30) - the age that Jesus' ministry is bringing to birth - everything will be upside down and inside out, because "for God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
The warning epigram, "many who are first will be last, and the last will be first" is a reminder us of how the disciples (eg Matthew 10:35-45), squabbled over status and position. Here is a warning against pride and an assertion that it is God alone who will assess us.
How far are you willing to 'leave everything behind' in your discipleship of Jesus?
We might feel reasonably okay with the "first will be last and last will be first" statement as long as it remains at an abstract level. But when it gets put into practice (eg when newcomers read in church in preference to those who are longer established), to what extent are we so happy and accepting?