Matthew 20.1-16. The First becomes The Last

If we interpret Jesus’ teaching about service to mean we are to become the butler, the gardener and the dish-hand of the  people in our lives then we have misunderstood him. In fact, we may be serving ourselves and our need for the approval or acceptance of others. For Jesus, a life of service is a life first serving God and the service Jesus asks us to spend on others is the service that seeks their growth in God. This kind of service may be the opposite of making people comfortable or happy. We know this because this is the kind of service Jesus Christ offers us. To serve the Pharisees he calls them religious cynics, to serve the rich young man he challenges him to sell all he has. This kind of service may mean we do the dishes and mow the lawn but it also may mean we stop doing the dishes and mowing the lawn and require others to pick up their responsibilities to grow as human beings and to grow in their life in God.

Michael Flynn


Matthew 20.1-16

Matthew 20.1-16 | The First becomes The Last

Serving others is complicated

God is unfair and that is our problem

– but we have left everything to follow you

The First was last so that the Last can be First

– service is a statement of the gospel

Service is tough minded or it is only about us

For further though

Q: The debate on greatness and service is found in 18.1, 19.13, 19.30, 20.1-16 and 20.20-26. Can you summarise the attitude Jesus is correcting in his disciples and the attitude he replaces it with?

Q: What is the strength of service? How do we turn the service of others into serving ourselves?

Q: The introduction to the parable in 20.1-16 is the story of the rich ruler (19.16-26) and Peter’s response (19.27). What does Jesus say to shoe who have sacrifice much to follow him in 19.28-20.16? 

Q: If The First (Got in his Son) shall be The Last (cut off from God) so that The Last (those alienated from God shall be First (share in God’s life as his children) – what good are we to seek for others as we serve them?