A Deal Made in Heaven

Mark 8: 34—9:1
Gen 11: 1-9 / Psa 33

…whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
(Mark 8:35)

For the love shown by our Father,
For all blessings we have received,
What could we possibly offer
In exchange for this life we live?

Jesus called to Himself the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” And He said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” (Mark 8:34–-9:1)

Reflection

In yesterday’s Gospel passage, Jesus was asking His apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” This time around, He seemed to be asking them, “Who do you say that you are?” It is the same question that every ‘wannabe’ follower of Christ must answer before he can aspire to become His disciple. Am I willing to give up the old ways in my life that are hindering a closer relationship with Christ? And if these materialistic habits have been abandoned, can I deny myself the things dear to me (even quality time with family and friends) for the sake of the Gospel? Am I ready to take up the challenges that are certain to confront me on the path God is inviting me to follow?

Jim Elliot, an American missionary martyr, once wrote, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” In Elliot’s memory, poet Scott Wesley Brown wrote: “Obedience and servanthood are traits I’ve rarely shown,/ And the fellowship of His sufferings is a joy I’ve barely known; / There are riches in surrendering that can’t be gained for free, / God will share all heaven’s wonders but the price He asks is me.

Think about it. It’s a bargain stacked in our favor. What is the value of my life in the midst of billions living in this planet? Almost nothing, mathematically speaking. And yet, if I surrender its value to Jesus, what do I get in return? Something more precious than gaining the whole world, according to Him Who never lied, the Word of God Who walked His talk, and showed us the way through His cross. For this broken, wounded, sinful self, God offers His perfect kingdom for all eternity. Unfortunately, so many do not realize that this is the most important investment they can ever make in their life. They deny the truth of His Word and refuse to take up their cross, taking instead the wide and easy road that eventually leads to ruin.

Taking up the invitation of Jesus to carry our cross to follow Him reminds us of the time when we were children, and had to take bitter medicine when we were sick. Much as we hated the medication, we obeyed our parents because we believed their word that we would get well. From then on, we have learned to value obedience and sacrifice. Now as mature Christians, knowing that our Lord Jesus carried the cross of our sins when He was sinless and not accountable for them makes the cross of our own sins a lighter one to carry. How then can we not believe Him when He tells us that by carrying our cross and denying ourselves of the nice things of this world we are safeguarding our greatest treasure?

Yes, the road that leads to eternal life is not easy, and only a few find it. But just as the riches of this world are won by only a few who are willing to work hard and endure many sacrifices, so also must the treasure of heaven be only for those who are willing to take up their cross, and surrender everything for the sake of that Pearl of great prize.

Lord, what value are these material things to me if they do not help me find my way to Your kingdom? Help me to unburden myself of all worldly attachments and be willing to take up my cross instead to follow my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Comments are closed.