The King of the First and the Last
Matthew 19:27- 20:16
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 18, 2011
"That's not fair!" While 'mama' may be the first word many children say, 'That's not fair!" may be their first full sentence out of their mouths. It seems we have a deep sense of justice built into the fibre of our being. That's not quite as true when it comes to mercy. Children have to be taught gratitude and mercy; they have to be instructed to say "Thank you", and "I'm sorry", or "I forgive you". But if a child senses that another child is being given favorable treatment, especially if that's perceived to be slighting himself, that child is sure to sulk and finally cry foul.
Thankfully we all grow out of this tendency as adults and its no longer a problem for us. Right? Not so much.
* Peter's voice and our hearts: he is our spokesman - confessing, resisting, questioning, denying, and proclaiming.
I. The Kingdom of Self
A. What's in it for me?
* The 'evil eye': envy and pride as source of broken fellowship
* My brother and unexploded bombs – back in 93, 13 people were killed in France by WW2 bombs that were embedded and in the ground and then detonated through erosion. Unless we deal with the old ordinance of our past wars we are in danger.
B. The Rich, Young Ruler
C. The Truth of Rewards
II. The Kingdom of God
A. Serving, not from fear of hell or hope of heaven but from love for Christ
* Calvin on motive for service
B. Serving, because the Fields are full of harvest
* Where miracles happen
* Doug Nichols of OM in India: “All I did was take a trip to the bathroom.”
C. Serving, where we are in the Day
III. The King of Firsts and Lasts
* "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last..."
A. Revolutionaries hate and reject the 'firsts'
B. Status Seekers hate and reject the 'lasts'
C. The King and the Kingdom love and embrace both in a new society rooted in the cross.
* Equally deserving of eternal demolition; equally objects of mercy and grace
* Perfectly Just and Perfectly Extravagant: Just what you agreed and manifestly more than you could imagine.
God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful. His covenant citizens receive exactly what was agreed, and also, by grace, incredibly more than we deserve.
This is how it will be at the end of history. Those who demand their just reward shall receive it – but the wages of sin is death! Those who know they have been given the privilege of mercy will sing with thankfulness the grace of their Master’s generosity.
This is possible because the One who is first made himself last so that we who were last and lost might be found and first. His Kingdom has come and continues to expand with his citizens learning every day to be like the King of Firsts and Lasts.