Jesus said that the many (the nation) who come and knock claim that they have eaten and drunk in his presence, i.e. in the presence of the master of the house, and he had taught in their streets (Luke 13:26). However, the context of the parable shows they were praying to God to act on their behalf. They still didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah, and they didn’t realize the very God whom they claimed to worship was the very one who visited them in the person of Jesus 40 years prior to their request at the time of the Jewish war with Rome. They claimed they had “eaten and drunk in his presence” i.e. they worshiped him in the language of the Temple sacrifices. They claimed he (God) taught in their streets – i.e. the Torah was read in the synagogues each Sabbath and Holy Day. They claimed they worshiped him and listened to and obeyed his words, and on this basis they made their request: “open to us” i.e. act on our behalf.
The response of master of the house in the parable is to the Jewish nation. He claims he never knew them (Luke 13:27). That is, he had never had cause to regard them before, because they never really sought his will. Their ways were right in their own eyes, and they never sought him out for his wisdom. Rather, they persecuted those whom he sent to them (Matthew 23:34-37). On the other hand, the very fact that the master of the house knows those who knock are workers of iniquity shows he is aware of who they really are, but the fact remains he never knew them as his disciples. They never followed him or sought to know his will about anything they did.
The nation, i.e. the many who knock or desire the Messiah to act on their behalf, will weep and gnash their teeth (Luke 13:28), because the Messiah does not come at their request—not in the way they wish. Rather, he comes to judge them. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, and they, the children of the Kingdom of God, were scattered throughout the world. In other words, they see as though they were afar off that, while they are cast out of the Kingdom of God, Abraham and the prophets etc. take part in and enjoy the Kingdom of God.
Everything seemed backwards and out of place. The gentiles, i.e. the nations, come from the north, south, east and west in order to enter God’s Kingdom (Luke 13:29), but the Jewish nation was shut out. The last in line have become first, while those who had been considered in the front of the line have found themselves last!
The many, those who were considered near to God or among the chief ones of God’s people, were driven afar off and became as strangers to God. On the other hand, many who were strangers and considered afar off from God, who were least and not even considered a people of God—they were brought near, and they were given the opportunity to be among the chief ones of God’s people (Luke 13:30). According to Matthew 21:28-32, what a man does is more important to God than what a man says. Simply agreeing with God, but not submitting to his authority is merely paying him ‘lip service’. However, disobedience but later repentance and submission to God’s will is pleasing to him and will be rewarded accordingly.
On the three occasions Jesus said the first would be last and the last would be first. Whether one incurred loss for the Kingdom’s sake (Matthew 19:28-30 and Mark 10:29-31), or labored according to the law or according to grace (Matthew 21:28-32), or whether one struggled (G75) against the tide of public opinion (the many in the parable) and refused to conform (cf. Romans 12:1-2 and 1Peter 1:14; 2:2) to the ways of men, there would be some who were considered chief among men, but would take their place in the Kingdom last, and others, whom no one thought worthy, would find a place in the Kingdom of God among the very chief positions, for which they never dared hope (Luke 13:23-30).