“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, 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, you will save it” (Matthew 16:24-25, NLT).
At first glance, Jesus’s invitation in these verses may seem like a peculiar way of trying to attract a following.
Who wants to be Jesus’s follower if it requires you to give up your own life, to turn from your selfish ways and take up your cross?
It doesn’t really sound very interesting. In fact, it doesn’t sound like much fun at all!
But when you consider the membership requirements to be in His club that Jesus expressed in these verses within the context of the complete passage (vs. 24-28), His invitation to spend your life following Him instead of following after your own self-interests doesn’t seem so unusual.
In fact, it makes a lot of sense! It becomes a most compelling challenge!
Peter had just identified Jesus as the Messiah: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (vs. 16). As Messiah He will return to Earth at the end of time to judge all people according to their deeds (vs. 27).
So, there is clearly no eternal advantage to rejecting Jesus, to being selfish or self-absorbed. Instead, you have everything to gain by living for God and making His will the main the priority of your life.
Because in the end, Jesus is going to judge you according to how you lived your life and not on what possessions or power you accumulated for yourself during your lifetime: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (vs. 26).
From the perspective of eternity, it just makes sense to follow Jesus!