Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. 32 And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, 33 Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: 34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again (Mark 10: 28-34)
The second thing, which demands our attention in these verses, is the solemn warning which they contain. The Lord Jesus saw the secret self-conceit of His apostles. He gives them a word in season to check their high thoughts: “Many that are first shall be last; and the last first.”
How true were these words, when applied to the twelve apostles! There stood among those who heard our Lord speak, a man who at one time seemed likely to be one of the foremost of the twelve. He was one who appeared more careful and trustworthy than any. He had the charge of the money bag, and kept what was put in it. And yet that man fell away and came to a disgraceful end. His name was Judas Iscariot.
Again, there did not stand among our Lord’s hearers that day one who at a later period did more for Christ than any of the twelve. At the time when our Lord spoke he was a young Pharisee, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and zealous for nothing so much as the law. And yet that young man in the end was converted to the faith of Christ, was not behind the chief apostles, and laboured more abundantly than all. His name was Saul. Well might our Lord say, the “first shall be last; and the last first.”
How true were these words, when we apply them to the history of Christian churches! There was a time when Asia Minor, and Greece, and Northern Africa, were full of professing Christians, while England and America were heathen lands. Sixteen hundred years have made a mighty change. The churches of Africa and Asia have fallen into complete decay. The English and American churches are labouring to spread the Gospel over the world. Well might our Lord say, the“first shall be last; and the last first.”
How true these words appear to believers, when they look back over their own lives, and remember all they have seen from the time of their own conversion! How many began to serve Christ at the same time with themselves and seemed to run well for a season. But where are they now? The world has got hold of one. False doctrine has beguiled another. A mistake in marriage has spoiled a third. Few indeed are the believers who cannot call to mind many such cases. Few have failed to discover, by sorrowful experience, that the last are often first, and the first last.
Let us learn to pray for humility, when we read texts like this. It is not enough to begin well. We must persevere, and go on, and continue in well-doing. We must not be content with the fair blossoms of a few religious convictions, and joys, and sorrows, and hopes, and fears. We must bear the good fruit of settled habits of repentance, faith, and holiness. Happy is he who counts the cost, and resolves, having once begun to walk in the narrow way, by God’s grace never to turn aside.
The last thing that demands our attention in this passage, is our Lord’s clear foreknowledge of His own suffering and death. Calmly and deliberately He tells His disciples of His coming passion at Jerusalem. One after another He describes all the leading circumstances which would attend His death. Nothing is reserved. Nothing is kept back.
Let us mark this well. There was nothing involuntary and unforeseen in our Lord’s death. It was the result of his own free, determinate, and deliberate choice. From the beginning of His earthly ministry He saw the cross before Him, and went to it a willing sufferer. He knew that His death was the needful payment that must be made to reconcile God and man. That payment He had covenanted and engaged to make at the price of His own blood. And so when the appointed time came, like a faithful substitute, He kept His word, and died for our sins on Calvary.
Let us ever bless God that the Gospel sets before us such a Saviour, so faithful to the terms of the covenant – so ready to suffer – so willing to be reckoned sin and a curse in our stead. Let us not doubt that He who fulfilled His engagement to suffer, will also fulfill His engagement to save all who come to Him. Let us not only accept Him gladly as our Redeemer and Advocate, but gladly give ourselves, and all we have, to His service. Surely, if Jesus cheerfully died for us, it is a small thing to require Christians to live for Him.
(Above article adapted from Gracegems website)