A Contract Made in Heaven

Mark 8:34-– 9:1
Jas 2:14-24,26 / Ps 112

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

The values on which we now depend
Will determine life’s final goal.
What profit is there to gain, my friend,
If in the end I lose my soul?

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, if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 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

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 his 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. This is a contract stacked in our favor. What is the value of my life among the billions of individuals 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 that 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. Yes, the road that leads to eternal life is not easy, and only a few find it (Mt.7:14). 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 persevere, take up their cross, and surrender everything for the sake of that Pearl of great prize.

What did Jesus mean when He said, “whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation”? He was directing these words to those who would not get involved in the mission of proclaiming His Good News of salvation to others for fear of being shamed, ostracized or persecuted. We can never claim His fellowship if we do not do our share in bringing others to the life of Jesus Christ.

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.

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