People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.
Part of the In Crowd
I have vivid memories of my High School cafeteria. That was where the pecking order was established. If you sat at the right table with the right people, you were cool—you were in and accepted.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t cool enough to be at that table. I didn’t have the looks or the skills. I didn’t know how to tell the right jokes or wear the right clothes. So even when I mustered up the courage to sit with those people, I knew I didn’t belong.
Is that how Christianity works? Is Christianity about doing the right things, wearing the right clothes, and speaking the right way so that somehow you become a spiritual insider? Some people in Jesus’ day sure thought so—the religious elite assumed they were part of Jesus’ inner circle. They also thought that anyone different than them were outsiders and unsaved nobodies. But Jesus had a surprise for them.
He said that on the Last Day, there would be many people from faraway lands that they considered outsiders who would get in. And those who thought they were obvious insiders will be cast out. In other words, those who were last will be first, and the first will be last.
Why is that? Often those people who are last in this world recognize their need. They tend to humbly call out to God for help and rescue. They welcome Jesus’ salvation. But those who are first in this life often believe the lie of their own self-sufficiency. They are self-reliant to the point of being self-righteous. They are so full of themselves that there is no room for God.
Here is the good news: If you feel like a spiritual outsider, someone God could never love—know that Jesus came to save just such people. He came to save you so that you who deserve to be last can be first.
Lord Jesus, thank you for welcoming me to your table. Show me what it means to be accepted by you. Amen.