Final in a series of studies of Mark 8:34-37
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37).
To emphasize His point about the inestimable value of the soul, Jesus here asks two rhetorical questions in the form of extreme contrasts, both centering around money.
Consider the total value of everything in the world and place that vast amount up against the value of one soul—the soul is more valuable. Then, He makes it personal: is there anything in the world for which a person would exchange his soul?
The answer is: Nothing. There should be nothing for which a person would exchange his or her soul. If we lose our soul, we are sentenced to eternal punishment; and there is no way to change that situation once we pass into eternity.
The wonderful news is that Jesus as well as God wants us to succeed. That’s the reason they laid out and implemented the plan for our salvation. And Jesus gives the essence of that plan in verse 34: deny self, take up our cross, and follow Him.
Second in a series of studies of Mark 8:34-37
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).
Cross bearing and self-denial are not optional if a person wants to follow Jesus. Jesus has made that point perfectly clear as He speaks to this mixed group of disciples and unbelievers in the area around Caesarea Philippi.
To re-enforce His teaching, Jesus presents to them a statement that appears almost contradictory at first glance: To save, one must lose; and whoever loses saves—in other words, a follower of Christ must be willing to give up something here to gain Heaven.
Jesus speaks of the higher spiritual life. The person who is willing to sacrifice his earthly life here, either by dying for the Cause or by denying himself, will gain in the life to come, finding himself in Jesus’ bosom for all eternity.
First in a series of studies in Mark 8:34-37
"When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’ ” (Mark 8:34).
For clarity of language, there could be no more precise direction than Jesus gives here—there can be no misunderstanding Him. And this message is to all potential followers—that is, to everyone who wants to be a true disciple: deny self, take up a personal cross, follow Him.
Self-denial means allowing something else—in this case, someone else—to be the most important person in our lives. We must forget ourselves and make own personal desires secondary to what Jesus wants.
Taking up a personal cross speaks to the fact that life happens—life presents each of us with situations that may not be pleasant. Jesus says don’t become weak—rather, stay strong during these situations and remain spiritually grounded, regardless of what happens.
Following Him means allowing His Word to direct every aspect of our lives since it is through His Word that He speaks to us today. Our eternal future depends on our response to Jesus’ directive in this verse.