Sunday, 9 November 2014


So, following on from 'the last will be first and the first will be last.' The disciples had given up their lives to follow Jesus. They had left all that was familiar and safe but Jesus had promised them the world: the kingdom of heaven, and how they would be rewarded with far more than they had given up.

Yes, when I 'feel' as if I am really following Jesus, being obedient to his example and commands, it really does feel 'heavenly'. A deep sense of rightness in my spirit and a heartfelt joy that is not possible to get with material possessions.

Presumably the disciples felt like that, too, but they were also clouded with material desires, hoping that Jesus would be the promised Messiah who would lead the Jews to regain their kingdom and independence once again and be a nation in their own right, not ruled by foreign invaders as had happened for hundreds of years.

So Jesus again tells what seems like a harsh parable: the story of the labourers in the vineyard, where those who did the least work received as much as those who did the most.
An image of the kingdom indeed, where those who come late inlife to God are as gladly accepted as those who have served God all their lives.

I'm with the disciples. It seems in one sense hard when those who have lived sacrificially receive the kingdom of God in the same way as those who have lived selfishly. It shows I do not really understand grace - this incredible gift of 'rightness' with God which he has given through Jesus.


I liken being in the kingdom to being part of a wonderful royal household: the castle stands, magnificently turreted with a huge, protective wall around it, on a hill above the surrounding countryside. It is not possible to get inside - even to visit - unless you are a member of the royal household. The humblest servant girl, the one who sweeps the ashes out of the fireplace and is at the beck and call of everyone, serves in delight because she is accepted into the royal entourage. She is privileged to have a place which is the envy of all those outside.

This is what Jesus wants us to understand: he himself was called to sacrifice his own life for others and so, immediately after he tells the disciples of his forthcoming death, when the mother of James and John asks for positions of privilege for her boys, It is even more shocking.

And then he gives sight to two blind beggars who, indeed, are the lowest of the low. He restores them to the ranks of the 'normal' through his mercy.

How much does it take for me to realise how humble I need to be to enter the kingdom?

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