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2007-09-16_The Last Shall Be First_Matthew 19.23-20.16_SL

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The Last Shall Be First

Matthew 19:27-20:16   |   Shaun LePage   |   September 16, 2007

I.       Introduction

A.    It’s been called the most famous play in Rose Bowl history. New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech vs. UCLA. Center Roy Riegels picked up a fumble, 65 yards—the wrong way! Teammate tackled him on the 1. Forever known as “Wrong Way” Riegels.

B.    Not so unusual—in football and life. Many people think they’re running toward the goal line, but by heaven’s standards, they’re going the wrong way.

C.    At end of Mt 19, Jesus and 12 watching a man going the wrong way; rich young man walking away from Christ—choosing instead to keep his wealth in this world than give it away in search of the next. As they watched him walk away, Jesus—training disciples—said…19:23-26 (last week); Peter listened, changed conversation with question…

II.     Body—Matthew 19:27-20:16

A.    The Problem: Are we wasting our time? (v.27)

1.     Was Peter out of line? Or is Peter’s question logical and reasonable?

2.     Peter heard the hopelessness of Jesus’ words; what good was it for them to make the sacrifices they had if human effort cannot save? Or, maybe he was just comparing himself, realizing he had done what Jesus asked of the rich man—either way, he wanted to know the pay-off; wasting their time following Jesus? Good question.

3.     Re-evaluate your choices. Good to evaluate choices. If I pursue riches? Live self-focused? Follow Christ? Is your choice a waste of precious time?

B.    The Promises: It will all be worth it! (vs.28-29) 3 parts!

1.     (28a) One would expect Jesus to say, “Get behind Me, Satan! It’s not about you, Peter. You just do your job and don’t worry about what’s in it for you.” But He didn’t! Not the slightest hint of rebuke! “Truly, I say to you…” is strong, passionate statement.  

2.     (28b) Promise #1: “You who have followed Me…” Who is “you”? The Twelve; Notice when: “in the regeneration” (palin (anew) genesia (birth); “renewal of all things” (NIV), “when the world is made new” (NLT); “when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne” (Second Coming and millennial reign)! Turned the focus to the end! Though nation rejecting offer of kingdom; it will still come—postponed; millennial reign of Christ will see the spiritual, political, geographical and physical transformation of earth (BKC, Mt.19:27-30); what is the promise? “you also shall sit upon twelve thrones” See Rev 21:12-14—12 hold special place in millennium, but all believers who ; why? “…judging twelve tribes of Israel”; Jews who followed, judge Jews who rejected (larger context!); requires 12 tribes regathered—biblical view of future recognizes differing programs for Israel and church (not same!); God still has plans for Israel! Main point: Jesus told them, “It will be worth it!” Prophecy compels.

3.     (29) Promise #2: Promise for “everyone”; who? “everyone who has left…”—not all believers but those who paid cost of following; “left” what? Possessions and people—when we give Christ His proper place, it will cost us. Give or lose possessions, rejected by or separated from people; why? “for My name’s sake”! Legitimate loss resulting from following Christ; what is the promise? 2-fold: 1) “will receive many times as much (“hundredfold” KJV)…”—Notice when is not defined—this reward can be ours now, completely in the future; kicked out of house? Church family will take you in! Father rejects you? 100 men stand ready to take his place!; 2) “…will inherit eternal life”—problem: do we get “eternal life” by works, making sacrifices? No…and yes! “Eternal life” is not merely eternal existence, but rich and meaningful life—beginning now! It is a free gift by faith. But it is also abundant life which we are commanded to “take hold of”! [Reign of the Servant Kings, pgs.135-7.] Notice when is not defined—this reward can be ours now, completely in the future; Point: It will be worth it to follow Christ! To make great sacrifices! We’ll lose—lose big—if we don’t (not a salvation issue, but as Paul said, “suffer loss” of reward.

4.     Serve with the end in sight. It will be worth it!

C.    The Principle: This world is upside down! (19:30)

1.     The “first” in this life (wealthy, important) will be “last” in the next—today matters forever. Rich young man chose poorly. He eventually lost his wealth. Rich in this life. Poor in the next. 12 chose wisely. Sacrificed in this life. Rewarded in the next!

2.     Redefine your value system. Invest it all in futures! Betsy Barfield a fool to raise support so she can teach kids in Manilla—could get paid here?! By Christ’s standards, she is earning 100X what she could here! You losing out on profit you could be earning by not working on Sundays and spending time at church and with family? NO! “Many times” more valuable! Crazy to downsize your home so Mom can stay home? Wrong to dump that girl; avoid that popular friend because they’re corrupting your morals? No to all—this world is upside down. Whatever it costs—it will be worth it!

D.    The Parable: The Father is generous! (20:1-16)

1.     (1-15) Parable surprising to listener; 5 groups—first worked all day, each group after worked less than group before, but all got paid the same—seems so unfair!

2.     Point: This is what I’m not saying—don’t think of rewards as a legal contract with God. Work A = Reward A. Work B = Reward B. All reward is based on God’s grace; Key phrase (v.15): “I am generous”!

3.     But called “wages” (8) See also 10:42; Lk 6:23; Mk 9:41; Strongs: “the fruit naturally resulting from toils and endeavours”; rewards are earned—not automatic to believers and even though all these workers received the same “wage” many other passages indicate that Christians will not be rewarded exactly the same; Again, the point here (Mt 20) is to caution us about thinking God owes us; but the larger context of the NT shows that some will be rewarded greatly and others will “suffer loss” though they will be saved! 1 Cor 3:11-15; Rev 3:21 obviously possible some will not “overcome”—writers consistently urge us to embrace this goal! Jesus Himself: Mt 6:19-20!!

4.     (16) Principle restated—this world is upside down! We naturally think the ones who worked all day deserve more pay! But God’s grace resulted in reward for those who didn’t deserve it. Rewards—though earned—are still the grace of God.

5.     Trust God’s grace. Trust that God is generous. Trust that following Christ will be worth it in the end. If you’ve been working for God all your life (early morning) trust God’s grace to bless you abundantly—beyond what you deserve (it was by His grace that you were “hired” in the first place). If you were “hired” late in the day, trust God’s grace to make up for lost time. He is generous—just serve Him and let Him handle the rewards department.

III.   Closing:

A.    Halftime, 1929 Rose Bowl, UCLA locker room, Coach Nibbs Price said, “Men, same team that played the first half will start the second.” Riegels didn’t get up, “I can’t!” Price: “Get back out there, Roy, the game is only half over.” Roy went back and played his heart out.

B.    If you do some evaluation and realize you’ve been going the wrong way, the game is only half over. It’s never too late to turn things around and play your heart out. Whatever it costs—Christ deserves it. It will be worth it.

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