Wherever Jesus mentioned the aspect of rewarding those having sacrificed everything to follow Him He emphasized the aspect of first becoming last. “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matthew 20:29-30 RSV).
The power of redemption considers the aspect of humility. The work of Jesus is to unconditionally redeem humanity. Those called are set free from worldly troubles, although facing possible unprecedented persecution. The question is whether there is an advantage in being called now, rather than later.
The human expectation, at all times, is to adopt a position of superiority, rather than being the junior. What naturally appeals most, in this life, is superiority, rather than servitude. The redemption of humanity concerns addressing elements of pride. Positions of authority are as dangerous as maintaining conditions of pride, rather than humility. Jesus is Lord, but He died for wicked humanity.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:5-10 RSV).
Church leadership is as dangerous as erroneously placing some people into Christ’s position. Jesus accomplished the task of delivering humanity from sinful conditions, by deflating the prideful state. The marvellous work of God is graciously administered, thereby, calling each according to timing. Spiritual gifts are also provided according to God’s knowledge of different personalities.
As created in God’s image all humans should not be dissociated from Godly nature. True love implies that no human being can be looked down upon. It may also be essential to discourage those aspiring for seniority in God’s Church. It was not by strength that the Twelve were called, ahead of the more knowledgeable religious worshippers in Jerusalem.
In Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus gave a parable, with a lesson on humility. A group of labourers got engaged before everyone else. Later, during the day, another group was hired. The hiring of labourers continued at different intervals, until day-end. The last group, coming at the final hour, was promised the same remuneration as those having come earlier in the morning.
When the rewarding time came, the master did what appears as very unfair. He first awarded the same remuneration to those having come at the final hour. Those having worked since morning expected to be rewarded ahead of everyone. In other words, they considered themselves seniors to newcomers. The remuneration did not consider paying according to the invested time. Let alone the cumulative experience of those having laboured since morning.
This was a clear violation of standing principles, according to norms in business practices. Labourers are rewarded according to their respective contributions if justice would be considered to prevail. The entrepreneurial organizations treating employees in that manner, obviously, lose experienced staff. The parable carries nothing as suggesting how employees ought to be rewarded in organizations.
The sole purpose of the parable was to conceal the secrets of God’s Kingdom. Anyone feeling objectionable about Jesus’ rendering is comprehensible. Parables were meant to conceal secrets of God’s Kingdom. There are three reasons for administering the labour force in that manner, as illustrated in that parable.
The first reason regards the fact that being hired first is more of a privilege than the consideration of reasonable treatment under employment. Sacrificing one’s life for the sake of God’s Kingdom grants freedom and privilege of being at the same level as Jesus and the apostles. Very few people appreciate the significance of Christianity in that condition.
This is why Jesus advised rejoicing when being persecuted (Matthew 5:10-120. This is also why, after having been flogged, the disciples went away rejoicing, counting it worthy to experience dishonour for Jesus (Acts 5:41). Those assuming that coming into Christianity is doing God a favour, are mistaken. They behave similarly to how the rejected ones at Jesus’ coming would behave (Matthew 7:21-23).
The second reason projects Jesus as the enabler. The gift of the Spirit implies that the referred believer’s activities would be God’s work, rather than his own. Experiencing physical discomfort is nothing compared to the gift of life. What remains enigmatic to most people is that those despising God’s people would, unknowingly, be despising God.