What Is Life Worth? Matthew 16:21-28

The struggle for the worth of human life is going on before our eyes. Opponents to abortion emphasize the value of the unborn. Black Lives Matter seeks justice for lives that have been denied worth. The immigrant poor are labelled to deny their human dignity and rights. The list goes on and on. It seems the more the struggle goes on to lift up the value of life, the more brutal the opposition works to strip it all away.

So what is your life worth? You knew this question was going to come. The answer comes quickly in Jesus’ cross and resurrection. Yet we are fast to forget this truth for ourselves and for others. Our actions show how easily we sell out life for the cheap.

Jesus said in the reading from Matthew,

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

Matthew 16: 24-26

What is life worth? It is priceless. No amount of money is going to buy back a life that has been forfeited on the cheap. So remember that your life has value. This is what Jesus is telling us and so where we invest our lives is critical. The reality is that we have no choice. We are either giving ourselves over to the world or to being a follower of Jesus. Only one will give value to life that God intends for all peoples (creation too).

Jesus has just told the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem where he will suffer, be killed and raised up to life on the third day. Peter (who had correctly named Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God) challenged Jesus saying that this must never happen. Jesus’ response was to call Peter’s words satanic. Obviously Peter didn’t fully grasp the consequences and purpose for which Jesus was speaking (this understanding would come later). However, Peter’s response showed where his life was currently invested. His life was focused on the traditions and the power structures which rewarded a few and denied others their value. This is why Peter’s response was called from Satan. His words spoke to a way of life that opposed what Jesus taught, did, died and was raised to accomplish.

Remember that your life is priceless. Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection prove that value. So where are you going to put that valuable gift of life that God has given to you? Will you sell out on the cheap for traditions, power structures and labels that reward the few while taking away the value and dignity of others? Or, will you give your life over to a life defined by Jesus?

The fight to define the value of life is going on in protests on the street and over the Internet. The question that each of us has no option but to answer is this, “What is life worth?”


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