Live as if to die

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” (Mark 8: 34-36)

Jesus has just told the disciples that he is going to die, and Peter, dear Peter, is rebuked for saying it can’t be so. But it is so, and (in some sense) worse: not only Jesus, but his disciples, too, are to live as if to die, for only in dying will they save their lives. Jesus, of course, is killed on a cross; according to tradition, so also was Peter.

And for those of us, who are not (yet) called to a martyr’s death, how can we lose our lives for the sake of Jesus and his message? The answer is clear and obvious and ever difficult: to be mindful of Jesus and his message at every point, and act to honor Jesus and to live out his message and tell others of its good news.

Savior, visit Thy plantation,
Grant us, Lord, a gracious rain!
All will come to desolation,
Unless Thou return again.

Lord, revive us!
All our help must come from Thee.

Keep no longer at a distance,
Shine upon us from on high!
Lest for want of Thy assistance,
Ev’ry plant should droop and die.

Lord, revive us!
All our help must come from Thee.

 (words by John Newton, Prayer for a revival, used in Return Again, which includes a chorus given here).