There's a New World Coming!
Today's reading was Matthew, chapter 20. The Parable of the vineyard workers is the first in this chapter. I love this one. Even as I was reading it, I was filled with all kinds of warm and tingly emotions. Every time the vineyard worker went out and hired more people, I was amazed at his kindness to give everyone who didn't have a job, work to do. And then when it came time to pay them, he gave those who only worked a short while a full days wages. Such generosity! And to me it was so much more than him just giving a handout. He was giving these workers pride. He hired them, and they were able to work for their money. The end result here is that the men who had been working longest were paid the same, and grew angry. The vineyard owner scolded them for being angry at his kindness and generosity. And this is where we hear "The first shall be last, and the last shall be first."
Later on in this chapter, James and John's mother asked Jesus if her sons could sit next to him in Heaven. This turned into a lecture for the disciples about being servants. He told them that "whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant". This was a challenge to the disciples to examine their own servant hood and see just how they could serve God, each other, and the unsaved.
Both parts of the chapter are similar. In order to follow the instructions Jesus left behind, we must humble ourselves. We have to stop walking around with blinders on, and open our eyes to what God would have us do. I love thinking about that, but sometimes I admit that I find it difficult to put into practice. Quite often other things get in the way of serving, and I need to make a conscious effort to try and put serving first. It's a work in progress, I guess.
The other part of this chapter is about Jesus and his death. Right in the middle of it, he predicted his death again to the disciples. This is actually kind of important to pay attention to. There are three instances in the Bible where Jesus predicts his death AND RESURRECTION to his disciples. Yet, not a single one of the disciples remembered the part about Jesus being raised from the dead. They mourned him as though he was dead forever. And when the women came to them with news that Jesus had risen, they didn't believe them. John had to look into the tomb and see the graveclothes before he believed that Jesus rose from the dead. Even the disciples didn't believe! That is crazy to thing of. But there's also something exciting here for us! We can believe that Jesus rose from the dead! We celebrate Easter every year as a reminder of this very miracle. The exciting part is that for those of us who truly believe that Christ die on the cross FOR US, and then rose again three days later... we get to experience the same thing! 1 Corinthians 15:20 says: "He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again." If we believe with all our heart, and confess him as our Lord, there will be life for us after this life. There will be eternal life! We were meant to live forever in the presence of God.
Everyone dies. It's a fact of life, that at the end, we all must die. But for those of us who believe in Christ, there will be no death. Death for us will be heaven- our new life, and our new world. Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare heaven for our eternal stay. What could be more exciting than that!