When Jesus taught that the first will be last and the last first, he wasn’t teaching that the occupants of certain positions will be switched, that the poor, for example, could look forward to being elevated to the status of rulers, while those who had ruled heretofore could expect a sharply reduced role. He was teaching something much more fundamental and difficult than that.
It’s important to understand that Jesus didn’t work in disguise, like the conscientious royal heir who dons commoner clothing and wanders the realm as a peasant for a time. Jesus rather revealed the nature of true royalty as service. It is not ‘acting the part’ of a servant. True royalty is service, not something existing behind or above service…that’s what Jesus reveals. Not subservience but service, not sacrificial obedience but sacrificial love, what Paul is referring to when he speaks of knowing Christ by sharing his suffering, (Philippians 3:10).
The only ‘power’ in heaven is the power of love, and it’s not a power at all, in any sense we understand the term. Love is by its nature a giving, not a receiving, an emptying rather than a filling.
“But that’s absurd! I can’t imagine a place like that! I can’t imagine thinking that way!”
And of course, that’s true. If we could, we wouldn’t need Christ.