“And the last shall be first”
—Jesus (Matthew 19:30)
This is a common one.
It’s the great justice: those who were stepped on down here will be exalted up there.
And while I do believe God takes special care of those who are overlooked, that’s not what this verse is about.
Jesus is walking his disciples through what it takes to be his follower.
Specifically, he is answering the question of loss. Peter and the others saw the rich man’s struggle and listened to Jesus’ own commentary on it (“it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven”).
But then he says this: “With God all things are possible.”
He’s not condemning the rich. He’s explaining the struggle of having things that compete with the kingdom.
Finally, he lays it out.
Those who have not sacrificed cannot follow. Which is why, “many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
Following Jesus isn’t really a paradox. It’s just a priority. But it’s a priority that’s worth it.