25For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.26For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?
A doctor says to her patient, I have some good news and some bad news. Which would you prefer to hear first? The patient says, tell me the good news first. The doctor says, alright, the good news is that you’re not a hypochondriac. Of course, the bad news is that you really are sick.
A doctor takes his patient into the examination room and says, George, I have some good news and some bad news. George says, Give me the good news. The doctor says, they’re going to name a disease after you. And of course, then braces himself for some really bad news after that.
Even Moses had to deal with good news/bad news, though. God said to Moses, I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Moses said, give me the good news first. Moses, the good news is that I’ve chosen you to deliver my people from bondage. I will force Pharaoh to release my children by causing years of pestilence in Egypt. There will be plagues of locusts and frogs and incredible devastation upon the land. Pharaoh’s armies will chase you as you try to leave, but do not fear because I will part the waters of the Red Sea to aid in your escape.
Moses then asked, and what’s the bad news? You have to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.
Good news, bad news. We seem to get them both from time to time. But one of the most difficult tasks for people in leadership positions is finding a way to convey bad news. Even Jesus had to deal with the problem of conveying bad news.
Jesus and His disciples were at Caesarea Philippi. Good news was everywhere. Their ministry is a stunning success. Crowds were everywhere they went. People reached out to touch this attractive young teacher from Nazareth. The disciples themselves were caught up in the excitement of it all. Jesus asked them, “Who do you say I am?” and Simon Peter answered enthusiastically, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” It was one of the most dramatic moments in the disciples’ pilgrimage with Jesus.
Then Jesus changed the subject. Up until now it had been mainly good news, but then Jesus started to give them a different kind of news. He began to tell them that the crowds would soon turn against Him, He would be crucified, but on the third day He would be raised from the dead. The disciples didn’t know what to make of all this. Simon Peter took Jesus aside: far be it from You, LORD! This shall never happen to you.
Peter loved Jesus. The last thing he wanted was for his Master to be killed. However, Jesus’ response to Simon Peter was as harsh as any words in the New Testament: “Get behind me Satan!” Jesus said. “You are not on the side of God but of man.”
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 . . .’
This was decision time for the disciples. The easy days were coming to a close. If the disciples were going to continue to follow Jesus, they were going to have to prepare themselves for a rough ride.
One evening, on his way home from a night of poker with pals, a man had a vision of the risen Christ. Christ appeared to him convincingly, with so much clarity and it was so vivid. Even though this event shook him deeply, for the next ten years, the man had never told anyone about it until he finally told his pastor. The pastor asked him why he had kept this to himself for so long. Was he embarrassed? Was he afraid that others would make fun of him or not believe that this had happened to him?
No, the man said, the reason why I didn’t tell anyone was I was too afraid that it was true. And if it’s true that Jesus was real, that He had come personally to me, what then? I’d have to change my whole life. I’d have to become a religious radical or something. And I love my wife and family and I was scared I’d have to change, to be somebody else, and destroy my family.
This was the same kind of moment for Jesus’ disciples. And it should be for us as well. If Jesus is “real,” in that man’s words, that’s good news, of course. But it’s also life changing news. If we take it seriously, then some changes might need to take place in our list of priorities.
In a very short time, Jesus would be kneeling in a garden. Sweat would fall from His face like great drops of blood as He prayed, Father, if it be Thy will, let this cup pass before Me, but nevertheless let Thy will, not Mine be done. Jesus knew what going to happen to Him. He came to do the work of His Heavenly Father. And that included laying down His life for those He loved. That, of course, includes us.
A man was walking through an art gallery when he came upon a picture of the Lord Jesus dying upon the cross. As he stared into the face of Christ, so full of agony, the gallery guard tapped him on the shoulder. The guard told him, the artist painted this picture to be appreciated from a lower position.
So, the man bent down. And from this lower position he observed new beauties in the picture not previously shown. Lower, said the guard. Lower still. The man knelt down on one knee and looked up into the face of Christ. The new vantage point yielded new beauties to behold and appreciate.
But motioning with his flashlight toward the ground, the guard said, lower. You’ve got to go lower. The man now dropped down on both knees and looked up. Only then as he looked up at the painting from such a low posture could he realize the artist’s intended perspective. Only then could he see the full beauty of the cross.
Jesus did the will of His Father, and the full beauty of His sacrifice continues to move all those who fall to their knees and look up. Jesus took the disciples aside at Caesarea Philippi to give them some bad news about their immediate future. This was a time that Jesus’ disciples would realize the full picture of Christ and His mission to save the world, although they only saw the beginning and the full scope would be before them soon. But it was also a time of resolve for Jesus as well. It cost him His life. But think what came from that one isolated event. More than 2,000 years later millions of people bow down at the name of Jesus. The bad news of the cross became the best news ever conveyed.