Yesterday’s gospel account was of the rich young man who felt unable to part with his worldly wealth in order to obtain eternal life. Today’s reading also involves money – but from a different perspective. Jesus tells us that The kingdom of heaven is like a man who hired people to work , and paid those who started later the same as those who were there from the beginning.
It is worth noting here that Jesus is talking about heaven – not God. Elsewhere in the New Testament Jesus tells us that Heaven is all around us.
– It’s at hand. (Matt 3:2)
– It’s within us. (Luke 17:21)
– (It’s not just where you go when you die).
In this analogy, Jesus explains that heaven’s rewards are not based on length of service, or amount of work – it’s based on you turning up. If you believe in Jesus you are in.
You are in. That's all that matters.
At the time Jesus spoke these words, the chief priests, religious rulers and the Jewish people would be regarded as the first, and only ones in line for God’s favour. They were God's chosen people from the start – but Jesus says that those who were last – the disciples – and then the Gentiles – and then us – will be first in line!
In our world, when someone jumps a queue, or receives a reward we feel they didn't work for, we cry “Unfair! I worked harder than them, and longer than them, why should they get the same as me?” When we live under heaven’s rule though – the rules are different. Everyone is welcome in heaven and everyone receives the same reward. That includes you. Wherever you came from, no matter what your background or how late in life you came to faith in Jesus.
As if to underline this idea of the first being last, and last being first, Jesus’ next statement to the disciples is to tell them that He will be put to death and then rise again to life.
Jesus was, and is, the first and the last. He is both beginning and end – yet He humbled himself and allowed man to put Him to death. He died for our sins – in the ultimate sacrifice – and then His last act (dying) became His first – He rose again – so that through faith in Him we can “queue jump” and declare “I’m IN!”
I’m in. How about you?
P.S. – If you are reading this and haven’t yet made a commitment to follow Jesus – could I encourage you to take that step today?
If you are ready, pray this simple prayer out loud:
“Lord Jesus, thank you that you died for my sins, so that I could be free to follow you and enter into your kingdom. I choose to follow you, and turn away from my sin. I give you my life from this day on.”
Now, go and tell somebody – or even email the church -and let us know that you just made this commitment. I promise you, you will never regret it.