The Last Will be First and the First Last – A Sermon on Judging

judgingTITLE: So the Last Will be First, and the First Last – a sermon about judging

SUBJECT: Parables, Judging

PROPOSITION: The kingdom of God is composed of people not expected by men because 1) Men judge based on appearances only, 2) Men do not believe in God’s mercy and grace, 3) Men Make Cheap Sacrifices thinking that will be pleasing to God.

OBJECTIVE: Each listener should understand that it is God who sets the standard for who enters His kingdom, not us.

AIM: I hope that we would seek to understand what God’s standard for the kingdom is so that we can conform to it being a people that doesn’t judge based on appearances, that show true mercy and grace to others, and that understand that we must make real sacrifices.


1. Read: Matthew 20:15 – “So the last will be First, and the First Last.”

2. About the Text:

1) Recorded only three places: Matthew 19:30, Matthew 20:16, and Luke 13:30.

2) The first example is after Jesus talks to the Rich Young Ruler.

3) The second is in the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard.

4) The third is in response to the question, “Are there few that will be saved?”

5) Each of these passages says a little something different about what people think vs. what God thinks.

3. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.

DISCUSSION: The kingdom of God is composed of people not expected by men because . . .

I.   Men Judge Based Upon Appearances Only.

1. Read Luke 13:23-30.

2. We don’t see the lives underneath many people’s external appearances.

1) Saul – 1 Samuel 9:2 – “And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.”

2) Absalom – 2 Samuel 14:25 – “Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.”

3. God judges based upon the heart, not outward appearances.

1) 1 Samuel 16:17 – “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”

2) Luke 16:15 – “And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.’”

3) Proverbs 16:2 – “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits.”

4. To know the people of God’s kingdom, we must not to judge according to appearance.

1) Proverbs 18:30 – “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.”

2) James 2:1 – “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. ”

3) John 7:24 – “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

II.  Men Do Not Believe in God’s Mercy and Grace

1. Men are frequently judgmental and stingy – Read Matthew 20:1-16.

1) Romans 2:1 – “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

2) Luke 12:18 – “So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.”

2. God is a merciful and gracious God.

1) Psalm 103:8 – “The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.”

2) 2 Samuel 22:26 – “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;”

3) John 1:16-17 – “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

3. To know the people of God’s kingdom, we must be merciful and gracious.

1) Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.”

2) James 2:13 – “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

3) 1 Peter 2:1-3 – “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

III. Men Make Cheap Sacrifices Thinking that Will Be Pleasing to God

1. Read Matthew 19:16-30.

2. Men make cheap sacrifices.

1) Malachi 1:8 – “’And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?’ Says the Lord of hosts.”

2) Disobedience cheapens sacrifices. Consider Saul in 1 Samuel 13:12 – “Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” Samuel replied, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:13).

3. God expects us to offer the best with a pure heart.

1) Leviticus 22:19-25 – God told them not to offer anything with a blemish.

2) Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

4. To know the people of God’s kingdom, we must offer real sacrifice.

1) Listen to David’s great example in 2 Samuel 24:24 – “Then the king said to Araunah, ‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.’”

2) Psalm 51:17 – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.”


1. The last will be first and the first last means that the kingdom of God will be composed of people that men do not expect because . . .

1) Men Judge Based on Appearances

2) Men do not believe in God’s mercy and grace.

3) Men make cheap sacrifices thinking that will be acceptable with God.

2. Invitation