Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, 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 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
This morning, when reading this section of scripture, I notice especially the concepts of “holding onto” and “abandoning”.
Jesus talks about if you want to “be my follower” or “follow me” or “come after me” or “ἐλθεῖν ὀπίσω μου” (depending on your preferred translation) that you must:
1) Give up your own way
2) Take up your cross
3) Follow [Him]
About your life He says:
1) Hang on = You will lose it
2) Give up your life (for the sake of Christ and the Good News) = You will save it
About benefit, He says:
A) Gain the whole world + Lose Your Soul
B) Is anything more valuable than your soul?
And finally, He compares NOW to THAT DAY:
Adulterous and sinful days
Anyone Ashamed of Christ and His message
He returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels
the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person
In reading this passage, it discusses repeatedly and in multiple layers this concept of holding onto and abandoning.
When we are given a choice between two opposing alternatives, we will cling to one and abandon the other.
Joshua touched on this concept in his call to the people in Joshua 24:15 to:
“choose today whom you will serve… But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
And Jesus spoke of this concept in Matthew 6:24:
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. ”
And our conscious speaks to us this morning, asking:
“Who will you serve today when your opportunity comes to face opposition, persecution, unfair treatment, suffering, pain, heartache, temptation or whatever lies before you? Will you serve the Lord? Or will you serve yourself? Will you hold onto the Lord and abandon the cadres of this world? Our will you abandon the Lord to lay hold of the things of this world?”
It should be a sobering contemplation, knowing how many times we have failed and fallen short of such perfection in the past. If this thought doesn’t humble a mam to repentance, how hard might his heart have grown cold — how much leaven of self- righteousness might have crept into the whole lump?
But we don’t hope in the past. A man who holds onto his past has his past firmly in his hands and had abandoned his hold on Christ for something else.
Our faith is not in the things seen already, but in Christ and His work.
Lord, help us to cling to you alone today. Help us to abandon everything else that might hinder our testimony our not being you glory and honor. No matter the abundance of our past failures, lead u.s back home to you. Remind us how sweet it is to be in your arms. Hold us in your hand and never let us go. Teach us to do the same. Amen.