Back to Basics: Saving Your Life

If you want to save your life, your first have to lose it.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

These are the words of Jesus. He was either a liar, lunatic, or He was, and remains, the very Son of God. What He said must not be misinterpreted or taken lightly. 

Let’s begin with what Jesus didn’t mean. Many people interpret “cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives: a strained relationship, a thankless job, a physical illness. With self-pitying pride, people often say, “That’s my cross to carry.” Such an interpretation is not what Jesus meant when He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

When Jesus carried His cross up Golgotha to be crucified, no one was thinking of the cross as symbolic of a burden to carry. To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: a guilty verdict punishable by death in the most painful and humiliating means human beings could think of.

Therefore, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender. After each time Jesus commanded cross bearing, He said,  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”

Although the call to denial is admittedly tough, some can never do it. But for all who do, the reward is priceless.

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Brian Sussman

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