S54P5 – Linchpins of the faith: self-sacrifice

Matt. 16:24-26

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone 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, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

The prisoners were getting restless.  Everyone knew that no one ever left that camp alive.  They had heard rumors that there was a man with the power and ability to infiltrate that place and set them free.  One day, he showed up to do just that.  Once the captives were led away and stood on free land, they looked around for their hero, but they would not find him standing there.  In order for them to gain life, their hero had to give up his.  Word soon got around that this man left one request of these former prisoners.  He asked that they count the cost of their freedom and be willing to pay the same price for his cause.  If they truly valued his sacrifice and understood its significance, they would be willing to sacrifice themselves as well.

Some people think that taking up their cross means bearing with people or circumstances they do not like.  They think this concept has to do with burdens as they relate to displeasure.  If we look at what the cross of Christ really means scripturally, we see that this is not the case.  To take up one’s cross and follow Jesus Christ means to mirror what He did.  It means that we give up our lives willingly as He gave his.  That cross was a trial that Jesus had to endure for our freedom, and He asks us to bear our own trials for his purposes in return.  We follow behind him along that via dolorosa regardless of pain or discomfort.  If ever a single word could encapsulate the character of Christ in its totality, sacrifice would be on the list of contenders.  Without it, we would not be free.

Our sacrificing our lives for God serves the purposes of his kingdom.  As we give our lives to him, we are also dedicating our lives to the freedom of others.  We put ourselves out there and share the good news with people in the hope that they would come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.  We stand boldly for God’s truths so that a witness is declaring his glory in this fallen world.  We go so far as to sacrifice our mortal lives for the testimony of bringing God the glory He is due.  The true Christian understands that we were purchased for a price, crucified with Christ, and our lives now belong to him.  Father, remind us daily that we live not for ourselves but for You and your kingdom’s purposes.