Friday, April 5, 2024

Picked Last

Have you ever been picked last?

Playground pick'em has been a right of passage for generations. Two leaders are chosen, and these leaders look at the mass of kids blobbed together, arms raised, begging to be picked for this or that team. And, inevitably, there has always been one or two kids who know they are going to be picked last. One of them might not even be picked at all; he or she will just be relegated to whichever team would have had the last pick.

Sometimes, it gets down to these last few kids, and an argument breaks out - not about who gets who, but about who has to take who. "I'll take Sally this time if you take Joe. I had to take Joe last time." It can be humiliating...especially if you happen to be Sally or Joe. 

(This is why, by the way, I never pick team captains when I have to divide a class of students.) 

A lot of us imagine God's Kingdom to be a lot like this schoolyard pick. We know that He says He has a place for us, but we worry that that place might be all the way out somewhere near the right field fence, somewhere where we, who are picked last, are never going to see any real action, never going to be a meaningful part of the game. 

But remember, Jesus understands what it's like to be picked last. There was a moment in His life when it came down to just two men remaining, two men standing in front of the crowds. There was Jesus, of course...and there was Barabbas. And the entire crowd, in a moment of stunning rejection and humiliation, starting shouting Barabbas's name. 

No, you have to take Jesus. I don't care what you do with Him. We don't want Him.

He felt the sting of all of that. 

And He's not about to do that to you. 

God chose you first. Before the beginning of the world, He chose you. He knew that the world, His world, was going to need one of you, and He chose you by design. He knit together every part of your being so that He could love you just the way you are. 

Jesus chose you first. When He tells you that there's a place at the table for you, He means it. This table. Not under the table, like the woman in the Gospel story. Not next to the table, where a servant might be. There is a seat at the table for you; it's got your name on it already. First. Before you even get there. Before you even come. 

Not as the last chosen, but as the first welcomed. This is the Table of Christ. 

Set for you by Someone who knows what it's like to be picked...not even last, but not at all. He chose you first. And you're welcome here. 

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