When we were kids, my dad would play street football with us. He was the quarterback and drove us crazy. Who the best players were was clearly established and they were chosen first, yet my dad would send them running to the right with defenders in tow, then toss the ball left to Billy. Billy had been chosen last and was undefended. Touchdown Billy! My dad had this annoying habit of making winners of the kids chosen last.
This smacks of Jesus, who likewise dismayed his disciples. In his kingdom, “the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). Not sure what that meant, a couple disciples tried to come out on top the conventional way. James and John, the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17–great football nicknames), coaxed their mom to approach Jesus, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom” (Matthew 20:21). Jesus didn’t say he would, but he told them, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Matthew 20:26-27). Down is the new up in God’s kingdom.
The religious leaders thought themselves the best players in Israel, but Jesus told them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31). You see, they were righteous men and thought God needed them. The ones on the bottom know better. Sinners need a Savior.
Heavenly Father, I do not deserve Your grace. Of course, I don’t. It wouldn’t be grace if I deserved it. You have so much love for me, and for all of us, that You never run short of grace. There is enough for all. Even the thief on the cross, who came into Your kingdom just in time.
I know I don’t deserve the riches of Your Kingdom, but I’m thrilled that they are mine. I look forward to eternity, to being in Your presence, being in Your Kingdom, being Your child, co-heir with Jesus Christ, sharing in His glory. That’s amazing.