Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 4 Study # 9
December 6, 2009
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
1901 ASV Translation:
24 For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
25 For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose or forfeit his own self?
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.
27 But I tell you of a truth, There are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
- I. The Foundational Truth.
- A. This has nothing, at root, to do with "losing one's life for Jesus".
- 1. The issue has, fundamentally, to do with where one puts his/her most basic values. It is, at root, the issue of "creature/Creator" and the inescapable fact of a Creator/creation reality.
- 2. That it is Jesus Who is at the core of the issue is the reality. If any other by any other name "happened" to be Creator, that person would be at the core. This is just another example of the fact that Jesus is the Creator and simply must be at the center of one's value-universe.
- a. This is not Jesus grasping for the lives of His disciples; it is Jesus seeking to preserve the life of His disciples.
- b. This is simply a fact: creatures cannot "live" without their Creator being the chief focus of their lives.
- B. There is a built-in conundrum: one cannot "not" be interested in the "salvation of one's life". There is no motivation at all in "losing one's life for Jesus" if there is no "life" to be gained thereby. There is no "warning" in the words "... shall lose it" if there is no interest in "saving one's life". The fact is, Jesus is not telling us that we cannot focus upon our "life". Rather, He is counting on our interest in so doing and telling us how we can accomplish the goal. But, there is this difficulty in the mix: if one's focus is actually upon "saving one's life", that goal will not be met. One must actually be willing to "lose" one's "life" in order to save it, but the willingness has to be real. How does this work? In what sense would a person's values include, at the most basic level of motivation, a sense of necessity to "save one's life" that can, at the same time, be a value that can be sacrificed? If one's life is not worth saving, one can give it up; but how does one "give it up to get it"?
- 1. The answers must be found by knowing what is really at stake.
- 2. Knowing what is really at stake means we have to understand what Jesus meant by the salvation of, or loss of, one's "life".
- 3. The first issue is that of the word translated "life".
- a. This cannot be, by all biblical theology, one's "existence as a person who is embodied and fully aware."
- 1) The biblical doctrine of "resurrection" of all of the dead means all will be "embodied" (caused to dwell in a physical frame) and there is no teaching in the Scriptures in any place that eternity will be an experience of unconsciousness. There is no danger to any if eternal unconsciousness is to be the reality and, thus, there is no real meaning to any of the warnings of the Scriptures regarding eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46).
- 2) Since everyone will be embodied and aware for all eternity, the "salvation" or "loss" of one's "life" cannot refer to an eternal, embodied, awareness.
- b. Jesus used a word (translated "life" by our translators) that refers specifically to the nature of one's existence once the "breath of God" has entered into one's "body" (Genesis 2:7). This is enormously instructive for one cause: it "defines" Jesus' term. The word Jesus used is "pseuche" (pronounced "sue-kay") and it is the equivalent to Moses' term in Genesis 2:7 ("nephesh"). The Mosaic text clearly indicates that Adam's existence shifted in terms of "experience" at the point of the divine act of breathing into the nostrils of the body formed from the dust of the ground. This "shift" consisted of this major reality: the body was given God's breath so that it could become both functional and aware. But we have already argued that the issues of functional awareness in a body is not the root of Jesus' warning about "salvation/loss". Thus, we need to be more fully cognizant of what the Genesis 2:7 text is telling us. There is an issue beyond function and awareness: it is the union of the breath of God and the person He has made functionally aware. This means that the essence of the "pseuche" is the union between God and a person. At this point, however, the context of Luke 9 takes over. Jesus' words of caution are addressed to people who have yet to decide if they are going to "come after Jesus". This means that there is something more than "union" involved because no one is clearly "united" with Jesus until after the decision to follow Him has been made. Because of this reality, we are forced to move from the idea of "union" (which, in Genesis 2:7, preceded any decision-making on the part of the body of dust) to the realm of metaphor. In this realm, the "pseuche" becomes a form of speech that addresses the result of "being" a "pseuche" (Adam, the text says, became a living pseuche). This is a figure of speech in which the "thing" becomes its "result". That raises the issue of just what this "result" might be. Jesus made it clear: the "result" of "saving" one's "pseuche" is being "embraced" by Jesus in the presence of the Father and the holy angels and the "result" of "losing" one's "pseuche" is having Jesus be "ashamed of" the person in the presence of the Father and the holy angels (Luke 9:26). This, in turn, is described by Jesus as suffering such a significant "loss" that it is called by Him "destroying oneself" (Luke 9:25). But, this raises another, related, question: what is "self-destruction"? It has to be an enforced breach between the Breath of God and the person who is made functionally aware by that "breath". In other words, the "result" of the "salvation of the pseuche" is an unimpeded harmony between God and the "living soul" He created and the "loss of the pseuche" is the opposite (an unimpeded breach). So, bottom line: what Jesus is addressing is the plus and minus of becoming a follower of Him. If one becomes such a follower, he "saves" his "experience" of union with Jesus, and if one refuses to become such a follower, he "loses" any "experience" he might have of that union.