Today's verses are Mark 8:36,37: "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" Jesus had called the Twelve and the crowds to him and began some of his most profound, deepest teaching. We saw yesterday how he called all his followers to deny self, )our own self-determination and self-will), and take up our crosses, (the places to where Jesus calls us, the situations we will face for him), and follow him, (to live as he lives, do as he does). He said that anyone who tries to save his life, ( to protect it, make it his own), will, in fact, lose it. But those who give up their lives for his sake and the sake of the Gospel (who live in obedience to him for his glory alone), will save their lives and will find true life both now and forever.
Then Jesus asked two extremely important questions we all must answer. The first one was this: "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" We are eternal creatures. We are not a body that has a soul. We are a soul that has a body. The body is daily aging and dying. We came from dust. We return to dust. The things of this world on which we focus will all burn one day. Therefore, what profit, what lasting value is there to gain everything the world has to offer, fame, popularity, possessions, power, notoriety and lose what is most important, the one thing that lasts forever, our eternal souls? What benefit is all earthly acclaim and possessions when we face the Father one day?
The second question is equally important: "For what can a man give in return for his soul?" One day, when we appear before the one who created us, what is there in this world that we can offer to God to barter for our souls to be with him? What work have we done or possession we've amassed here can impress God so much that he will grant us entrance into his eternity? The answer is obvious: nothing.
The primary reason Jesus left heaven was to save our souls. What does this mean? He came to forgive our sins, to make us right before God on that great day we appear before him. He came to grant us the privilege of an eternal relationship with him. We spend our lives amassing things that don't matter, that have no eternal consequence. We forget that here is no U Haul attached to a hearse. We cannot take our possessions with us. Yet we live as if we can. We live continuing to hunger for the things of this world, never satisfied. We are living as if God is impressed with what we accumulate here, thinking that one day we can trade what we've accumulated here for our eternal souls!
What is the condition of your eternal soul today? Do you hunger and thirst for the things of eternity? Do you cry out with the psalmist, "As the deer pants for the waters, so does my soul long for you, O God!" (Psalm 42:1). Is it well with your soul today?
Your soul is your identity. It is who you are now and forever. Do you find your identity in Christ, his gift of salvation to you, his love for you, his life in you? Do you long for him and him alone for meaning in your life? Or do you continue to buy the lie that I am what I own, the honors that have been bestowed upon me on this side of eternity?
Please ask yourself Jesus' two extremely important questions today. They will expose our life's focus, where we find our identity and purpose. They will reveal the destination of our eternal souls!
We all must answer them, one day, before the Father in heaven who gave us, by his grace, all the life and blessings we have here on earth and forever.