Everyone, it seems, wants to be first. Understandable, for to be first is to be best or have the most of some ability or power, which usually brings riches or honor. This appeals to us. And we often imagine that if only we, or our children, our team, business, or nation, were first, life would be much better. But this isn’t true, for Jesus said, many who are first shall be last (). And so we would do well to consider from the Word what it truly means to be first.
Scripture celebrates many firsts, and even as we do, firsts with regard to time. The very first day of the very first year was when God created light (). Salvation and deliverance are often associated with the first day of a new year, as when Noah uncovered the ark to discover a new creation ( ). In the first month of the year, Israel was freed from the bondage of Egypt, celebrated with the Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Passover, first set up the tabernacle, crossed over Jordan into Canaan, and returned from Babylon ( ; ; ).
The most notable first, however, is Jesus. Boldly, He declared, I am the first (). He meant this absolutely—something to remember especially when tempted to waggle our own first finger high in the air with similar claims. In whatever sense we or anything else might be first, Jesus is first of all. In fact, if Jesus were not the first, there could be no others—no first creation, first day, first Adam, or first estate ( ; ; ); no first covenant or first principles ( ); no firstborn, first love, first works, or first resurrection; and certainly no one who is last could ever be first ( ; ; ).
As the first, Jesus is the source and cause of all things. Jesus, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty, is the beginning (). He is the beginning in whom God created the heavens and the earth, and by whom all things were made ( ; ). Jesus is the first whose hand laid the foundations of earth and spanned the heavens ( ). He is the first who alone declares the end from the beginning, commands from of old the things that shall be, whose counsel stands, and who does all His good pleasure ( ). Jesus is also first because He is the eternal and perfect revelation of the being, works, and will of God. Jesus is first as the faithful and true witness, the wisdom of the eternal thoughts of God, the Alphabet and the Word who is the living exegesis of God spoken already on the first day of creation, revealed by the apostles and prophets, and written in Holy Scripture ( ; ; ).
The ultimate explanation for why Jesus is first is this: He alone is the eternal and natural Son of God living in the bosom of the Father, as the express image of His person and brightness of His glory, daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him and declaring Him (; ). And He is first because at the appointed time, God sent this same, only-begotten and eternal Son into the world to assume human nature by the Holy Spirit, so that Jesus is not only the firstborn son of Mary but firstborn of every creature ( ; ). As firstborn Son, Jesus is given the power, authority, and kingdom of God, and is made King of kings; even the angels must worship Him ( ; ; ; ; ). And as the Son of God, Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren, given responsibility to gather, defend, and preserve them as the church of God written in heaven ( ; ).
Only through faith in Jesus, can we who are last, be first (). Even though He is the first, He first suffered many things to redeem us from among men as firstfruits unto God ( ). Only because He first loved us, are we begotten by the will of God as firstfruits of His creatures ( ). And only because He is the first begotten from the dead and firstfruits of them that sleep, will the dead in Christ rise first ( ; ).
Therefore, seek not to be first. Rather, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; seek Jesus, the first, and be assured that all these things shall be added unto you ().