Our scripture this week is Matthew 16:21-28.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Jesus tells us again about holding on to earthly things with the statement “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (v. 25). This is a little difficult for us to understand at first, but Jesus wants us to see that nothing we have here is as important as our relationship with God and His promise of eternal life. Jesus isn’t saying life is worthless, but that we often strive more for things here than we do for the salvation He brings us.
Jesus wants us to think about priorities and understand the difference between what is temporary here and what God offers us forever. When we accept His forgiveness and truly change our hearts and lives, we become focused on that relationship over all else, including our desire for treasure or power here. We no longer fear what lies ahead, and our concerns for earthly things are lessened.
“Losing” our lives here doesn’t necessarily mean giving up our lives, although many have died for their faith. However it does mean living our lives for more than ourselves, seeing the joy of sharing God’s love as more important than anything else we do. Life is a gift from God to be used as a way of expressing our thanks and reaching others for Him.
Gracious God, we are grateful for the gift of life but even more for the connection it provides. Help us to use this gift to share Your love with all the world. Amen.