Summary: Who’s on First? The old Abbott and Costello routine asks a pertinent question about perspective and priority!
Who’s on First
28 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard.
2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 "About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.
4 He told them, ’You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’
5 So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing.
6 About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ’Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 "’Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. "He said to them, ’You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ’Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius.
10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.
11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.
12 ’These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ’and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 "But he answered one of them, ’Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?
14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you.
15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."
Who’s Really on First?
First of all, realize that there are
for being First!
30 But many who are first will be last,
and many who are last will be first.
Do you remember what happened at Circuit City the day after Thanksgiving? There was a mad rush of people who wanted to be first to get cheap computer. Yet they wound up being last because the police ran them off. Their wait, some of them overnight in the cold, only left them out in the cold because they had to be first. Being there first does not always mean you’ll be first.
While Matthew, Mark, and Luke all include this saying of Jesus that the “first shall be last and the last shall be first”, only Matthew gives us the story Jesus told. It is a story of unfairness from one perspective and absolute justice from another.