A Very Brief Reflection
St. Matthew 19:30 “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
St. Matthew 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
St. Mark 10:31 “But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
St. Luke 13:30 “Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega” says the Lord God.
Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
I write this in response to a text message that I received asking about this difficult saying. The statement of Jesus is certainly not a reversal of order in human relationships and events, resulting in unfairness and injustice. I find meaning in this verse in the context of St. Paul’s argument in Romans 3:27-28. He defends his belief on the principle of faith. “For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.”
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
The principle of justification by faith is central to Lutheran Doctrine and Practice.
That the first will be last, and the last first must be established on the principle of faith.
The first and greatest shall not receive more grace than the last and the least.
The last and the least shall not receive less grace than the first and the greatest.
The pastoral example is Jesus himself. He announces himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. Those who have taken up their cross and followed him must see themselves as both first and last, just as He is. In him, first and last are integrated into One. He announces himself as “the beginning and the end.” In the resurrection of Jesus, the end is the beginning returning to itself. The first does not contradict the last, nor does the last negate the first. First and last are not moments in time. The first has always existed before time, as the last will always exist beyond time. The first and the last transcend time, and in doing so, exist where “here and now” does not hold sway. The first and the last share a sameness with Jesus in whose resurrection eternity prevails.