At first glance, you might think that with a title like this on a day like today—April 1st—there must be a joke lurking in here somewhere. I promise you, this is no April Fools’ prank! Death is indeed life when we are dying for our Savior. In calling us to die, Jesus is giving us true life and rescuing us from certain death.
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
The serpent in the Garden of Eden promised life to Adam and Eve if they would simply turn away from God. What they actually got was death. Death masqueraded as life, but no life was to be found; instead Adam and Eve found themselves on the run away from the One who had given them life.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Not trusting in God seemed right to Adam and Eve, but in the end it delivered only death. You and I often find ourselves in the very same place. When we trust in ourselves rather than our God, it seems right to us at the time. When God appears to be slow in responding to our plans, it seems right to bypass God and make our own way. But in the end, it leads to death. Oh, we won’t drop dead on the spot! But we become dead inside; we die spiritually, just as our first parents did. It’s likely that all of you reading this have experienced this very thing on more than one occasion.
When Jesus said, “Deny yourself,” He was giving us the key to real life on this side of the grave. Death to self is life to the Savior. Death to our agenda is life to God’s agenda. Death to our goals is life to God’s goals. Death to our will is life to God’s will. When we say NO to ourselves, we are saying YES to God, and that is the only place we will find life. Death to self keeps us from the all-too-common condition of spiritual suicide.
Remember, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it,” and we try saving our lives when we insist on sitting on the throne of our lives. We miss out on the life Jesus is calling us to live. But “whoever loses his life for me will save it” is the result of keeping our Savior on the throne of our lives.
So . . . when is death life? Death is life when we are laying our lives down for the One who laid His life down for us. Living for the One who is the way, the truth, and the life is the key to finding and experiencing the life Jesus died to set us free to live!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!