“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “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 and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
We all follow something: an influencer on social media, a YouTube how-to channel, a podcast on a favorite topic, a diet, instructions for IKEA furniture. No matter what we’re following at any given time, we have to give something up. What you’re following determines your level of sacrifice. If it’s a social media influencer, maybe you’re giving up something from your closet. If you’re following a diet, you’re giving up your favorite junk food. If you’re building a piece of furniture, you’re giving up your pride or control or mental state. To follow something requires a sacrifice.
It’s the same for following Jesus, and that’s clear in this passage of Mark 8. Following Jesus means you “deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Jesus. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Jesus and for the gospel will save it.”
To follow yourself is to lose yourself. The sacrifice in the moment doesn’t feel like a lot—you may not even realize you’re sacrificing anything at all! But the loss is eternal. Jesus is saying that when you follow him, you’ll have to sacrifice your plans, your ideas of right and wrong, and your control, but in the process, you’ll gain a greater plan for your life, a guide to life in Scripture, and a purpose greater than yourself.
So, if following Jesus requires sacrifice, what are you sacrificing? What does it mean for you to follow Jesus?