What Can a Man Give in Exchange for His Life?

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard
2013 15 Mar

“What can a man give in return for his life?” (Mark 8:37)

Decision time.

Jesus is meeting with his men at Caesarea Philippi, a city outside the borders of Israel. There Peter makes the great confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Matthew 16:16). Jesus then reveals the fact of his coming crucifixion in Jerusalem. What’s left to say? Only one thing.

Are you in or out?

We all have just one life to spend. The challenge for all of us is the same. What’s the best deal we can make? In this short journey through life, in the fleeting moments as we pass our time on planet earth, what will we do with the life God gave us? With that as background, we may paraphrase the words of Jesus-and add a bit of 21st-century idiom-this way:

“Now that you know who I am, are you ready to take up your cross and follow me? Before you answer, let me warn you that to follow me will seem in the eyes of the world as if you are wasting your life. The people of the world will never understand what you are doing.

“You always have another option. You can try to save your life by following your own desires. Lots of people do that. They live as if their career is all that matters. But the people who live only for this life in the end will find that they wasted it on things that don’t really matter.

“But if you follow me, though the way will not be easy and you will often be misunderstood, in the end you will save your life. And the people who laugh at you now will not laugh at you then. They will see that you were right and they were wrong.

"After all, what good will it do if you become the richest man in the world or climb to the top of the corporate ladder or rise to the highest salary level in your company or win the applause of the world, what good will all that do if in the end you find out it was all wasted? What good will that shiny, new sports car do you then? Will you be able to trade it in for another life? No, you won’t. But if you want to live that way, go ahead. Millions of people do. In the end they will be sorry, but by then it will be too late to do anything about it.

"So what will it be, men? The way of the cross or the way of the world? You’ve got to invest your life somewhere. What’s the best deal you can make?”

The martyred missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

If you live for your career, what difference will it make ten seconds after you die? If you spend your life in the service of the kingdom of God, the road may not be easy, but 10,000 years from now you’ll never regret your decision.

Lord Jesus, you have called me to follow you, and now I must give an answer. Clear the cobwebs of confusion from my heart so that I might answer your call gladly, freely, completely, immediately, and say, “Here am I, Lord, ready to do your will.” Amen.

Going Deeper

Read Mark 8:34-38 carefully. Now imagine that Jesus is speaking to you personally. Paraphrase his words as you would imagine he would say them if the two of you were talking together. How do these words apply to your interests, hobbies, career aspirations, and relationships?