Mark 8:34-38

The Way of the Cross

34 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. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”


This verse about the soul is one of the most misunderstood statements about the soul in the Bible. Jesus asks, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Many people think this means it does no good to get a lot of money and pleasure if you end up spending eternity in hell. But Jesus wasn’t talking about eternity, he was talking about the here and now. Pastor John Ortberg explains it this way, “Jesus was not telling people to commit to the right religion in order to get their afterlife taken care of. He was making a brilliantly diagnostic observation about the nature of human life.” If a soul is broken or malfunctioning, our will, our values, our desires, emotions and our behavior will constantly be at war with each other. We will be incapable of soul satisfaction and soul peace.


Think of your soul as a needy person. We were created by God, in the image of God. In our souls, we have a great desire for more. We have an infinite capacity to desire more. What our soul desires is more of God, but we often give it anything but God. We consume the world and all its pleasures trying to fill the void. But gaining the whole world does nothing to save our souls. Ortberg tells us, “The soul has to stay rooted. Our souls, because they mostly lie beyond our conscious control, can easily drift and slide along. We see this with many people and often with ourselves. We go from moment to moment, day to day without being clear about our deepest values, without being truly grateful for this day that we have received, without being rooted in God. And the soul that is anchored in God is the only soul that can find peace.”


Today, plant your roots in God. Fill your soul with what it needs and find peace.  


Holy and loving God, You are the creator of my life. You are my strength and my rock. You are all I need. Today, I give my heart to you as an offering. Take it and shape it to be a heart like yours. Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a mind to understand all that you will teach me. Create a hunger in my soul for more and more of you. May nothing else satisfy me more than your love and grace. Give me a spirit of humility. If there is anything in me that keeps me from hearing your voice, reveal it to me. Cleanse my heart and renew the spirit within me. Transform me, Lord. Show me how to live each day in obedience to the Holy Spirit who lives within me. I offer you my entire life, this day and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.