"The Last Shall Be First"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 198

Context: Jesus, in his journey toward Jerusalem, is approached by a rich young man who asks what he must do to have eternal life. When told by Jesus that he must follow the commandments, the young man replies that he has kept them from his youth. If he would be perfect, then, he is told that he must sell all that he has, give to the poor, and follow Jesus. After the young man goes away with a sorrowful heart, Jesus explains to his disciples that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. When Peter says that the disciples have left everything, and asks what their reward will be, Jesus says that in the new world the disciples will sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Their reward will be a hundredfold, and they will inherit eternal life. Jesus adds that those who are highest in rank now will be lowest in the kingdom to come, and those who are lowest now will be highest then, a complete reversal of the earthly way:

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But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

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