The parable of the generous landowner reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son, in that those who had been with the landowner all day (the brother who had been with his father always) complained when the landowner was generous with the laborers who had lately come (complained when the father was generous with the younger son who had lately come). The complaint centers around the landowner/ father making the last men/ younger brother equal to the first men/ older brother.
This is what it means that those who are first will be last, and the last first. When the first are last, and the last are first, there is no first or last – all are equal before the eyes of our generous and good Father. As the rich young ruler learned, none of us are good and none of us earn our position, so we are rewarded by our Father who is good. And He chooses to give to the last the same as to the first.
The teaching in these chapters, concerning humility like little children, who is good, and what Yeshua’s followers will receive in the kingdom of heaven, is sandwiched between the disciples’ question to Jesus in Mat 18:1 of who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and the sons’ of Zebedee’s question in Mat 20:21 of who will sit on thrones on His right and left hand. (There is most likely a chiastic structure in here – please email it to me if you find it!)
Elohiym is the Great Authority of the Universe. But He is as He teaches in His word: It is not so with him, as it is with us. He does not lord it over us, or exercise authority (i.e., force against our will) over us. But as He is the Greatest Authority, it means that He is the Greatest Servant. He always has been and always will be.
It is the nature of man, of the world, and of the enemy, to lust after authority, power, position, and praise. May it be far from Your Body, O LORD!