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The First and the Last

John Collins04/06/2012
Matthew 19 tells the story of a young man who came to Jesus, asking how to gain eternal life.

The man asked the question, still holding onto the old ways that eternal life could only be attained by the good things you do.  He said, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"

Jesus asked him, "Why do you ask me about what is good?  There is only One who is good."  Testing him, Jesus gave the man a list of the commandments that the Pharisees taught were the things that must be done to live forever.

The man replied, "I have kept all of these things, what have I missed?"  The man had lived a holy life for his entire life, living by the legalistic ways of the Pharisees.  He did not have faith that he had eternal life.

Jesus instructed him, "If you are to be perfect, go and sell your possessions, giving them to the poor.  You will have possessions in heaven.  Then, come and follow me."

The man went away with great sorrow.  He had many great possessions in life.

As he left, Jesus told the disciples, "It is very difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle."

The disciples were astonished.  Every person had possessions, though some more than others.  "Who then can be saved?" they asked.  Jesus looked at them and told them that with men this would be impossible, but with God all things are possible.  

Peter said to Jesus, "We have left everything and followed you.  What possessions will we have in heaven?"

Jesus described thirteen thrones in heaven.  Jesus would sit in his glorious throne in heaven, and the disciples would sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

Anyone who have followed Jesus and left houses, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, children, or lands for His name's sake would receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life.

Jesus said that "Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."

As Christians, we should ask ourselves:  Do we think that by living good, we automatically get eternal life?  Do we think that if we have lived our entire lives pure, we are saved?  Do we place more value on the things in life than the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  If we had to give up everything we had known to leave it and follow Him, would we do it?  Would we leave our mothers and fathers for Jesus if we had to?  If our favorite brother or sister kept us from believing the Gospel, would we leave them to follow Jesus?  Do we think all that are the "great men of faith" in this world, considered to be the "first" will be first in heaven?  Are we first, or are we last?