...The Last Shall Be First

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#151: “...The Last Shall Be First”
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Matthew 18:12-13

12"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.

Matthew 20:1-6
1"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard.

2He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3"About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' 5So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing.

6About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?'

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...The Last Shall Be First

“...The Last Shall Be First” is episode #151 of the Adventures in Odyssey audio series. It was written and directed by Phil Lollar, and originally aired on April 27, 1991.


The kids of Odyssey clean out the Little Theater at Whit's End, while Connie tries to convince her Great Uncle Joe to return to church.


The Little Theater at Whit’s End is a mess. The kids have just finished re-enacting Jesus’ parable of the workers. To clean things up, Whit enlists the aid of Jimmy Barclay and Artie Powell, agreeing to pay them $15 for a job well done. Around noon, Donna Barclay drops by. Whit also hires her to help clean the theater. Then, later that afternoon, Lucy Cunningham-Schultz and Curt Stevens wander in, and Whit engages their cleaning services for the going rate of $15.

Meanwhile, Connie is trying to get her great-uncle Joe Finneman to go back to church. He stopped going years ago, and Connie has made him her personal project. But no matter what Connie says, Uncle Joe stubbornly refuses to go. He feels church is for the young, like Connie, not for old folks, like himself.

Connie tells Whit about this, and he gets an idea. Whit has Connie bring Uncle Joe down to the Little Theater to witness Whit paying the kids for a job well done. Just as in the scriptural model, those who were hired first complained that they were paid the same as the workers hired later in the day. But Whit sets them straight. Connie uses the illustration to point out to Uncle Joe that God’s salvation is available to all people, no matter what “time of day” they come to Him. The following Sunday, Uncle Joe accepts Connie’s invitation to come to church.

This plot section is too short and should be expanded. »

Discussion Questions

  1. Was Whit was unfair to pay everyone the same wage?
    • Why or why not?
  2. Uncle Joe thought he was too old to go to church. Why do you think he believed that?
  3. How would you get an unsaved friend or relative to go to church with you?


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Mentioned in episode

Character Mentioned By
June Kendall Connie Kendall


  • Joe Finneman makes his first appearance in this episode — as does his store, Finneman's Market.
  • This episode contains one of the first instances of Chris's trademark sign-off: "Hoping you'll join us again next time for more Adventures in Odyssey."
  • The title of this episode is a reference to Jesus' words in Luke 13:30
  • Jimmy's voice is beginning to change in this episode, a subject that would be dealt with later in #154: “Coming of Age”
  • In the closing wrap, Randall the Mailman admits that he's been reading letters while trapped in the mailbox. Not only is this highly unlikely unless he has a flashlight, but it also goes against his previously-established adherence to the law against doing so without permission from the recipients, seen earlier in #60: “And When You Pray...”.


Joe Finneman: I don't want to go because I already know what's gonna happen...I haven't been to church since I was a boy, and I can guarantee you nothing has changed...I'll prove it to you. First thing that happens when you get there is somebody greets you. Grabs your hand and nearly shakes it off. Am I right?...Alright, then you go in and sit. And they start off with a few announcements about Brother So-and-So's gallbladder and Sister Such-and-Such's rheumatism--
Connie Kendall: She has arthritis, actually.
Joe Finneman: Mm hm. And next the music man rises and directs two or three melodies everybody mouths the words to, which is followed by a prayer, which is followed by more lip-syncing.
Connie Kendall: Nobody lip-synchs.
Joe Finneman: Nobody except the choir. And if they aren't, then they're squeaking out a ditty nobody could understand even if they wanted to. Oh, then comes my favorite part. The collection of the money.
Connie Kendall: We do not collect the money then. We do it later.
Joe Finneman: Oh, I thought so. But once all this is done we finally get to the headliner. Pastor Fire-and-Brimstone steps up and reminds us of what wretched creatures we are...once a month or so, he'll invite folks to come forward, but the rest of the time he just wraps up with another little ditty or a closing prayer to catch what we missed the first time around...Then everybody shakes your hand off again, and they all go out front and smoke cigarettes.
Connie Kendall: Nobody smokes.

Connie Kendall: I mean there are lots of old people at church, I mean look at you!
John Whittaker: Well, thanks Connie.
Connie Kendall: Well, uh, you know what I mean.

Jimmy Barclay: You'll never guess what's in this magazine.
Artie Powell: A cure for the chickenpox?
Jimmy Barclay: Will you forget about the chickenpox?!