Apparently it was in response to Peter’s foolish rebuke that the Lord delivered His extremely sobering admonition to those who profess to be His followers.  We must, the Saviour says, take up our cross, the instrument of death, and follow Him.  In other words, we must be willing to crucify the deeds of the flesh, to abolish love for the world and its wicked pleasures.  In fact, we must be willing to lay aside even lawful pleasures when they would distract us from the service of Christ.  Those who are seeking nothing but their own gain and pleasure from this life will lose all in the end, while those who surrender friendships and possessions and pleasures to serve Him will find eternal gain.  Never was there a more poignant question than that asked here by our Lord, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”  This question is so plain and so striking that it needs no explanation.  The simplest child can comprehend the depth of its meaning as well as the wisest theologian.  And it is based upon Christ’s second coming and judgment.  What the Lord means for us to consider is the question, How shall we stand in the judgment?  It is as sure as the sun rising in the east that the Son of man will return to this earth in the glory of His Father and with the holy angels, to be the Judge of quick and dead.  The apostles preached that Christ was raised from the dead for this very purpose, that He might be the judge of all mankind.  Every work of men, both open and secret, will be brought before that great tribunal, and weighed in the balances of divine justice.  Only those whose sins have been cast into the depths of the sea through the saving merits of the Judge Himself will find themselves accepted, and granted to dwell forever in the new heaven and new earth.

The last words of this chapter have been a ground for controversy, which I will not presume to settle.  I recollect that Charles Spurgeon held the unique position that Jesus directed these words at His enemies, and referred the term “taste of death” to the eternal punishment which would be the reward their wicked works.  Others believe Christ is referring to His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, or to the great outpouring of the Spirit upon the church at Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2.  Still others hold to the opinion that I presently favor, that the Lord refers to the glory about to be manifested upon the mount of transfiguration.  This position seems to me the most tenable because each time this saying is recorded in the synoptic gospels, it immediately precedes that spectacular event witnessed by Peter, James, and John.

 

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