Perhaps the most preposterous, spellbinding moment in the 2018 Winter Olympics was when the Czech Republic’s world champion snowboarder Ester Ledecka won an event in a completely different sport: skiing! And she took the first-place gold medal even though she had the unenviable position of skiing 26th—a feat believed to be basically impossible.
Amazingly, Ledecka qualified to race the women’s super-G—an event that combines downhill skiing with a slalom course. After she won by .01 of a second on borrowed skis, she was just as shocked as the media and other contestants who had assumed the winner would be one of the top skiers.
This is how the world works. We assume the winners will keep winning while all the others will lose. It was a jolt, then, when the disciples heard Jesus say how “hard [it is] for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23). Jesus turned everything upside down. How could being rich (a winner) offer a roadblock? Apparently, if we trust in what we have (what we can do, who we are), then it’s not only hard but actually impossible to trust God.
The kingdom of God doesn’t play by our rules. “Many who are first,” Jesus says, “will be last, and many who are last will be first” (v. 30). And, whether you’re first or last, everything we receive is purely by grace—by God’s unmerited favor.
Consider how you view people, or how you view your own life. How does Jesus’s way of seeing so-called losers and winners change your perspective?
Jesus answered the question “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” with commands from the second portion of the Ten Commandments, which focuses on our dealings with each other. The first portion, regarding our relationship with God, is clearly more difficult to keep.