Blue Ribbons

Thursday, Oct. 20                              

“The first will be last and the last will be first.”  This idiomatic expression is used in only two contexts.  The first is in Mt. 19:16-30.  (Parallel passage in Mk. 10:17-31)  Jesus is having a dialogue with a rich young ruler who was encouraged to forsake his riches and become a follower of Christ.  The disciples applied Jesus’ remarks to themselves and voiced how they had left all to follow Jesus.  Jesus assured His disciples that they would be rewarded, but ended with “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”  The gist of this is that self-denial or sacrifice by itself does not win any blue ribbons.  It’s possible to sacrifice for ulterior motives.  The real issue is the heart, what motivates the self-denial.  In the very next chapter (Mt. 20:20-28) James and John used their mother to make an appeal for them to have special positions in the kingdom.  The disciples debated  who would be greatest in the kingdom right up to the crucifixion.  A true disciple/servant will be selfless.  First place belongs to the humble.  It is never the action itself; it’s what motivates it.

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