About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Can A Loser Ever Win ?
As a child I'd often
stand in line in the school yard waiting for my name to be called.
I'd watch the good ball players be chosen first. The mediocre
players would be chosen next. Then,
with reluctance sprinkled with a bit of kind sympathy, I'd be chosen
last. A legally blind kid
who couldn't see the ball to hit or catch couldn't win the game for his
The Bee Gees were my
favourite pop singing group in the 1960's.
The question that Berry Gibb raises in one of his songs was never
far from the back of my mind. "How
can a loser ever win"? (from
his hit song entitled "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart")
In Matthew 20:1 – 18
Jesus told a parable of a vineyard owner.
First thing in the morning he'd head down to the market place in
the centre of town. As usual
there'd be a number of men standing in line, waiting to be hired on for
the day. The vineyard owner
would make his choice of men and take them back to his fields.
Throughout the day he'd return to the market place and conscript
other men for the job. One
day he returned to the market place to hire a few leftover men to work
for the last hour
Even though each man
agreed to his wage prior to starting work, when the pay checks were
handed out at the end of the day, those who worked all day complained
that they received the same wage as those who only worked the last hour
of the day. In our day of
employment equity laws, you'd think their complaint was warranted.
Jesus didn't quite see it that way.
Jesus' thinking on this
issue is seen in the response of the vineyard owner to those who thought
he was being unfair. He
said, "I am not being unfair. Didn't
you agree to work for a denarius? Don't
I have the right to do what I want with my own money"? (Matthew
20:14 - 15) Jesus
pointed out that each worker agreed to his salary before beginning work.
Therefore, there should be no complaints.
Jesus also felt that the vineyard owner had the right to do as he
wished with his business. That
may have made sense to Jesus, but again, with today's employment laws,
it makes little sense. I
can't see the UAW Union signing on to this thinking the next time
they're in contract negotiations with General Motors.
The bottom line to Jesus'
reasoning is seen in Matthew 20:16.
He said, "The first will be last and the last will be
first". In this passage
the disciples were arguing over who among them should be considered the
greatest in Jesus' fast growing group of followers.
Jesus addressed this carnal view of organizational structure by
saying the first will be last and the last will be first. (Mark 9:35)
In other words, if you want to be president, prove you have the
ability to serve by cleaning the bathroom toilets.
According to Jesus, leaders are not to be dictatorial lords but
servants. (Mark 10:42 - 43) Our
business and political leaders would do well to learn this lesson.
Jesus didn't stop here.
In Mark 8:35 He said something that sounds both weird and strange
to our modern ears. He said,
"Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his
life for me and the gospel will save it".
I find Revelation 6:9 –
11 interesting when thinking of these things.
In this passage we see the souls of those who were killed for
their association with Jesus during the Great Tribulation that ends this
age. These martyrs didn't
just take Jesus' words seriously, they took His words literally.
Revelation 12:11 says that "they did not love their lives as
to shrink from death". They
willingly lost their lives for the sake of Christ.
In Revelation 20:1 – 6 we see these same martyrs raised from
the dead and ruling the nations with Jesus for a thousand years. The
life these martyrs lost was the life they eventually saved.
The time of tribulation
lasts a brief 7 years, or 3.5 years as some suggest.
If a pre-tribulation rapture is Biblically correct, these martyrs
obviously came to Jesus after the rapture.
Because the tribulation lasts 7 years or less, and many of these
martyrs were killed before it ended, they were Christians for only a few
months. This, along with the
fact that they served Jesus at the end of this age, reminds me of Jesus'
parable of the vineyard.
These martyrs worked for
Jesus for a brief few months at the end of this age, as did those
workers who worked for the vineyard owner for the last hour of the day.
Although these martyrs didn't serve Jesus for decades as many of
those who had been raptured, like the all day workers in Jesus' parable,
they were well paid. I
wonder if Jesus might have had these martyrs in mind when He spoke this
Whether Jesus had these
end time martyrs in mind or not may not be important.
What is important is the fact that the last will be first and the
first will be last. He who
loses his life for Jesus will save it, and he who saves his life for
himself will lose it.
Berry Gibb asked a
question that many of us have asked over the years.
"How can a loser ever win"?
Well, I think I've just answered that question.