An excerpt from An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, by Larry Parsley.

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. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”


Glory is a powerful motivator. Young athletes push themselves far beyond previous levels of endurance, all the while dreaming of a crowd standing on their feet, awash in thunderous applause. Something among us can push through pain and obscurity and countless roadblocks if we are assured that on the other side of the obstacle there is glory.

Jesus has a way of dumping a bucket of icy water on all our fantasies of success. For those disciples who dreamed of entering Jerusalem as cabinet members of their newly minted Messiah, Jesus proclaims a different and darker path. The milestones of their story will be measured out in losses and, well, crosses. Apparently, the Father glories in things the rest of us avoid at all costs (v.38).

This way of Jesus takes quite a while to wrap your mind around–at least a lifetime of two. It is not the way we would write our personal entries in Wikipedia. “By the world’s standards, Larry never really amounted to much, nor did the losers he hung out with.” But it is the way Jesus chooses to write the gospel story: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and the gospel will save it” (v.35).

Jesus, you lost it all for us.