In an earlier devotional, I referenced the story from Greek mythology of King Midas, who was granted a wish that everything he touched would turn to gold. Then he discovered that the food he needed to live could not be consumed, as it became gold the minute he touched it. I think this is a perfect allegory for what Jesus was talking about when he said, “Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives?” We are reminded that when we pursue worldly goods, ideas, agendas, and behaviors, we risk losing the eternal life to which all are called through Christ Jesus.
Take a look at this exchange between Jesus and his disciples:
Mark 8 (Common English Bible)
31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” 32 He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. 33 Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”
Peter is admonished for thinking “human thoughts.” What human thoughts do you engage in that are ungodly? What behaviors would condemn you as someone speaking for Satan? Is Jesus trying to correct something in your life today? Say NO to yourself.
34 After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 35 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. 36 Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives?37 What will people give in exchange for their lives? 38 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
The invitation is to follow Jesus. That means saying NO to all of the unholy things we say, do, think, and participate in. Those things are not worthy of a holy life, and those things are not worthy of you. Jesus invites us to take up our cross and follow him, and in that way we will save our lives as we lose them…in other words, lose the secular lives we are living and gain eternal lives in Christ.
The call is real. The circumstance is dire. The time is upon us. Lose your life because of Jesus, and you will gain heaven itself. And that, my friends, is good news.