Posted by Beth Croft on 29 July 2014

Matthew 16: 24-27:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “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 will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

The Jewish people had waited a long time to meet their Messiah, but when they encountered Jesus many were confused. They were expecting a warrior like King David, who would come in power and would defeat all their enemies. Instead Jesus came and demonstrated what we often call an ‘upside-down’ kingdom where everything is tipped on its head. As the Son of God, Jesus could have demanded that everyone served him but instead he came to serve others. He could have slain the enemies of the Jewish people single-handedly and taken his place as leader by force, but instead he lay down his life as a sacrifice for all.

In this passage from Matthew’s gospel we see another of the upside down ways of the kingdom: if we want to gain real life, we have to give up our lives. That means we stop trying to run after the things of the world and surrender ourselves to Jesus, asking that he would use our lives for his glory. We ask him to come and be the king of our lives, meaning we surrender to his way of doing things. We ‘take up our cross’ and let go of (or put to death) our own desires and ways of doing things so we can follow his commands. This sounds hard (and it is!) but this is the way we find true life. The world will offer us the very appealing alternative of pursuing our own selfish pleasures and desires, and these can satisfy us for a time. But the pleasures wear off, the shine fades, and we realise only Jesus has the keys to true life and lasting joy.

‘Rule in my heart’ was written to reflect the desire to give God his rightful place in our hearts and lives. God doesn’t force us to follow him or to put him first, we get to choose. But as Jesus said, we can gain everything the world has to offer, but if we forfeit our life in him to get it, we’ve lost everything.

Are there any areas of your life where you need to hand the reins over to God? Come before him in surrender today, saying yes to his upside-down kingdom, and offering your life again to the one who gave his life for you.

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