“Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, ‘If any of you wants to be my followers, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your own soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels’”
(Mark 8:34-38, NLT).
(Mark 8:34-38, NLT).
When Jesus said, “take up your cross,” his listeners knew what he meant. Death on the cross was a brutal and public form of Roman capital punishment. A prisoner was required to carry the cross to the place of execution, signifying submission to Rome’s power. Jesus was then saying that he wanted that kind of humility and submission, a complete “give up” from life as they known it. Jesus also was implying that identifying with him would lead to social and political oppression, and there would be no turning back. Jesus was speaking prophetically as well, for in a few months, he would take up his own cross and walk to Calvary.
Jesus had just said that he would have to suffer and die (see Matthew 16:21). Now he was explaining that his followers must be willing to do the same. To “give up your life for my sake” refers to a person refusing to renounce or deny Christ, even if the punishment were death. To “give up your life… for the sake of the Good News” implies that the person would be on trial for his or her preaching and circulating the Christian message. This is what being a real follower of Christ might cost us. But only in this way we can “save” our lives. Paul wrote, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better” (Philippians 1:21).
Think about this: Those who would follow Christ must count the cost and be prepared to pay it. If we try to save our physical lives from death, pain, or discomfort, we may risk losing our true eternal lives. When we give our lives in service to Christ, however, we discover the real purpose of living. Paul wrote, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Are you willing to pay the price of true discipleship? Give up your life for Him - and you'll save it for eternity.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.