March 8

Matthew 16:24-26 24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

After Jesus rebuked Peter for having man's preference over God's, He uttered these challenging words. Peter had a revelation that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. What was he going to do about it? He wanted to cling to Jesus' physical presence. No one wants to lose his or her closest friend. But Jesus tells us that if we want to follow Him, we must deny ourselves. We should put God's desires above our own. To take up a cross meant that you had received the death sentence. All that was left was a short walk and the painful execution. That doesn't sound like our portrayal of Christianity. But wait; we aren't done with what He required. Then He added, "Follow me". Deny self, take the death sentence, and follow! Wherever He leads I'll go. I no longer direct my life!

Then Jesus shared a bit of Kingdom reality. If you are planning on saving your life, that is, keeping it for your own use, you will end up losing it. But if you lose your life, if you give it to God for Jesus' sake, you will find the purpose and meaning that God intended when He fashioned you in your mother's womb. That is an all or nothing expression of Kingdom reality. You hear it or you don't.

To emphasize the point, He asked what good it would be if you gained everything? Isn't that what saving your life is about? It is the attempt to gain the pleasures and treasures of this world. The result is a forfeiture of the soul.

Consider: Would you give up your eternal soul in exchange for the entire planet and all this world has to offer? No? Then deny yourself. Take up your cross. Follow Jesus!