Saturday, September 06, 2008

Matthew 16:24-27 (2)

There are warnings for us when we savour the world too much. But there’s a wonderful promise in there as well. And here’s our second reason to savour the things of God more than man. Jesus says those who lose their life for His sake that they will fund it. That those who deny themselves and take up their crosses today will find their lives. What does this mean? In John 17:3 Jesus refers to eternal life as ‘knowing the Father and Jesus Christ who He sent.’ So eternal life, to which this verse refers isn’t just about living forever, but about knowing Jesus. Suddenly this is where the cost of ‘losing your life’ becomes wonderfully worthwhile. How does this sound to you? Is Jesus your treasure? Does being with Him perfectly make losing your life sound worthwhile? Well lets see what scripture says on the issue.

It’s clear that to know Jesus is to know life. To know Jesus, to see Him face to face in Heaven is, we read in Psalm 16 ‘fullness of joy’. We read in the same Psalm that there are pleasures forever at His right hand. Psalm 46 calls Christ ‘my exceeding joy’. Fullness of joy? Exceeding joy? Pleasures forever? Being able to do perfectly forever what we were created to do, worship Jesus? This is what makes losing your life worthwhile.

Did you know that you were made for greatness? We were made to behold greatness. Let me illustrate. Would you go to hear a band that made music no better than you could? Would you go to a gallery to look at pictures that you could have painted? Would you support a football or baseball team that couldn’t pass or pitch any better than you? No. We pay money to behold greatness. That’s what we do. No one goes to the Grand Canyon and turns round to say how great or important they are. And what makes the Gospel good news is that to bee with Jesus is to behold the greatest greatness of all. It is to have our hearts wholly satisfied. To hear Jesus say on that final day ‘well done good and faithful servant’, is what makes all the ‘losing of life’ worthwhile here.

Jesus goes on to build on this logic in verse 26 and our next reason: for what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world but lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ These verses build on the last two with some divine solid logic. What good is it, asks Jesus, to savour what to can not keep while you reject what will last forever. Imagine for a second you could own the whole world. Or all the stuff in the world you wanted. What good would it do you in the end? When the world melts like snow and you have lost the only thing that then you need, your soul. Why spend so much time and effort on what will one day burn, and not only that, but what will one day burn and may very well take you with it. These are dire warnings from Jesus mouth. The missionary Jim Elliot summed these verses up when he said ‘he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in exchange for what he can not lose.’ He was right.

Weigh up the rewards and consequences of life in light of Jesus words here, and cast your eyes on the next sentence. ‘or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’ more solid logic from Jesus. What is it in this life that can possibly be worth having that you would exchange your soul for? All the toys in the world are not worth that.

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