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No One To Look Down On

The last shall be first and the first shall be last
Matthew 20:1-16

Sermon Topic Exaltation

Sermon Week Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 20:16


God's ways are not our ways. God's thoughts are not our thoughts:

As high as the heavens are above the earth
o high are My ways above your ways
and My thoughts above your thoughts

Thus says the Lord in the Book of Isaiah, Chapter Fifty-five, Verse Nine. The truth of this Divine statement is nowhere more apparent than in today's Gospel Lesson in which Jesus says, "the last shall be first and the first shall be last" (Mt.20:16). It is one of those Biblical texts in common usage, but on a superficial level. It is quoted more as a popular maxim than as serious Biblican instruction. We hear it repeated frivolously, in the manner of "Too many hands spoil the soup" or "Look before you leap." The trouble with popular maxims is that they often are contradictory. For example, "Too many cooks spoil the soup" is countered with "Many hands make light work." "Look before you leap" is countered by "He who hesitates is lost." But "The last shall be first and the first shall be last" is not just another "bright saying" we can use to score points in a given situation. It is irrefutable Gospel Truth. And it is in that context that it is placed before us today. Jesus says, "The last shall be first and the first shall be last," and that is the Gospel Truth.

Norman Cousins, Editor of the "Saturday Review," relates an experience he had once in a large municipal auditorium. He says it reminds him of the last being first and the first being last. The auditorium was one of those massive, multi-room arenas designed to accommodate all kinds of sporting events, conventions, meetings, etc.-often simultaneously. Mr. Cousins was scheduled to deliver a lecture there and he arrived under the mistaken notion that he was late. He hurriedly checked his coat and, instead of looking for the stage door, he went down the middle aisle of the auditorium directly toward the podium. When he reached the stage, he discovered that it was too high to mount and there were no steps. [...]

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