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The First Will Be Last?

(1)

Sermon shared by Scott Chambers

September 2011
Summary: This message is the third in a series that deals with some of the difficult sayings of Jesus. This message examines Jesusí statement about the first being last.
Audience: General adults
Sermon:
Many of us have a competitive nature, a drive to do everything we can to come out on top. We have been taught that you compete to win. Our culture teaches us to climb the ladder of success, to outpace our competitors and that the one with the most toys in the end wins. So we work hard to make sure that our lives are as comfortable as possible. We constantly search to find away to position ourselves ahead of the pack. The problem is that there will always be someone who will outpace us and we will be in a never ending struggle to catch up and take back what we believe is rightfully ours. What we read in our text says the complete opposite. Jesus throws another teaching at us that goes against everything that we have grown to believe about life. Come on, no one has ever gotten anywhere in this world by being last. Those who are last are the losers, the door mats and the failures. No one ever honors those who come in last place. In fact we may be thinking that there is no way that this teaching could work in real life. Or maybe this saying is not to be taken the way we are thinking. Right now we need to check all our preconceived notions about this saying at the door so that we can approach this text with an open mind. Why?? We need to be able to put this text into its proper context and discover exactly what Jesus is driving at. So letís begin todayís journey of discovery.

I. Did Jesus really say what I think He did?
A. The typical Jewish person in the crowd believed that the day of Godís Judgment would turn things topsy-turvy.
1. The belief was that when the Messiah came justice would finally be served on behalf of Godís people.
2. All those who had oppressed and mistreated Godís people would finally get what was coming to them.
3. Jesus throws a curveball at the crowd when He applies this belief to the ordinary every day person instead of on a national level.
4. In the Jewish mind poverty was equated with Godís judgment and prosperity was equated with Godís blessing.
5. So like us, this statement catches Jesusí first century listeners completely off guard. Why? Because Jesus is turning the normal social order upside down.
B. We need to remember that the disciples are still stunned by Jesusí answer to the rich young man that asked to follow Him.
1. This encounter took place a few verses earlier in this chapter.
2. By Human standards this man had it all. He was apparently respected and viewed as righteous by the people.
3. In their mind, Godís favor obviously rested upon him because he was very prosperous.
4. No wonder the disciples were shocked. Wow!! If a man like this canít get into Heaven, who can?
5. Consider this? ďWas the problem the manís wealth or his priorities?Ē
6. The way we answer this question will determine the context in which we view Jesusí statement.

II. Bringing a tough statement into proper focus.
A. The result of Jesusí encounter with the rich young man causes Peter to arrive at a wrong conclusion.
1. Consider Peterís logic. ďIf the rich guy canít get in because he refused to sacrifice, then we must have our place secured because of our sacrifice.Ē
2. The problem is with his logic Peter displays the same attitude that led the rich young man to walk away sadly. ďMe first!Ē
3. Didnít Jesus just say that all those who have made great sacrifices for Him would be rewarded greatly in the Kingdom?
4. The
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