“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” (Matt 19:30)
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt 20:16)
“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you . Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be fist must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:25-28)
Also see the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard Matt 20:1-16NIV Study Bible (Red Letter Edition), Matt 19:30, Matt 20:16, 25-28
I’ve been thinking about these passages for a week and I have a couple conclusions. First I will discuss Matt 19:30.
1.) After the rich man left the Disciples questioned Jesus about their rewards in Heaven because they realized that they had done what the rich man refused to do, they sacrificed all to follow Jesus. It was answered to them, they would be Judges of Israel in the Afterlife, sitting under Jesus and that anyone who follows suit and example of the Disciples will inherit eternal life. Explaining that, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” What does this mean exactly?
It could mean that people who sacrifice in life, live for others, enduring life as a servant will inherit the greatest rewards. Being a servant doesn’t mean that one occupies the lowest of positions. A leader has every opportunity to be a servant, just as the lowest occupation has the ability to be a servant. One’s heart should be in the proper spirit if they wish to truly be a servant. A poor attitude, disdain for their placement or position deters from the true spirit of being a servant. Serving must be done with a pure heart and a will to see others bettered by your actions or words. Lifting up instead of tearing down those around you; be willing to do what you ask or more than you ask of others, and putting others first in life, are attributes of a true servant.
The link above will direct you to biblegateway.com, to the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Matt 20:1-16.
Another thought on what it means when Jesus says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matt 20:16) or “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” (Matt 19:30) or “and whoever wants to be first must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:27-28) is that we will be rewarded equally for our service to the Lord, whether we enter into eternal life in our old or young age. All rewards will be equal because the Lord is generous.
A personal note: This could very well mean that except for where specifically stated, there will be no hagiarchy amongst believers in Heaven. As we are all to serve each other the same way that Jesus served us, and still serves.