Are You Willing to Lose Your Life Over A Word? - Radical

Are You Willing to Lose Your Life Over A Word?

What did Jesus mean at the Last Supper when he said of the bread, “This is my body,” and of the cup, “This is my blood”? That may sound like a strange question, but it’s one that Christians before us have had to answer at the cost of their lives. The question of whether the bread and the wine actually become Christ’s physical body in the Lord’s Supper became one of the central issues of the Reformation nearly 500 years ago. At stake was the gospel of God’s grace. In this message from David Platt from Mark 14:22–31, we are faced with the question, “Are you willing to lose your life over one word?”

If you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does that you can look on with—let me invite you to open with me to Mark 14. As you’re turning, I want to welcome those of you in other locations, as well as some of you who are physically unable to gather with us today.

I want to start with this question: “Are you willing to lose your life over a word?” Would you be willing to lose your life, and all that means—to never see your family or friends again in this world, to lose everything you’ve built, to never breathe again—would you be willing to lose it all tomorrow for your belief in one word, because that one word represents truth that is more precious to you than anything else in this world? 

I want to show you a word in the Bible that has cost many lives. My sincere hope and prayer is that God will raise up in this church the kind of men and women, students and teenagers, boys and girl of all ages, who would say, “This word, this truth, is more precious to me than anything else in this world; I will gladly lose my life for it.” For those of you who may not yet be followers of Jesus, I pray that you will see in this word truth that is so good it’s worth laying down your life for. 

So what’s the word? Let’s read Mark 14:22–25. Let me set the stage for this scene. Jesus is eating his last supper with his disciples before he goes to the cross. Right after this, he will be officially betrayed and arrested, falsely accused and tried, then within about 12 hours from this meal, Jesus will be hanging on a cross. The Bible tells us this beginning in verse 22:

22 And as they were eating, [Jesus] took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

There is so much in this passage. We could spend literally hours walking through every word and phrase in this passage, looking at the depth of biblical meaning behind each word. We could talk about how it informs something we do every week in our worship as we take the Lord’s Supper. Not just that, but how it informs the very fabric of our everyday lives. The one word I want to focus on in particular may surprise you. It’s two letters and Jesus says it twice. The first time is in verse 22, when he says, “Take; this is my body.” Then in verse 24, Jesus says, “This is my blood of the covenant.”

For centuries this word “is” has been at the center of debates in church history. Specifically, Catholicism has taught that in this text, when Jesus says, “This is my body and this is my blood,” he is saying that the bread and the wine actually become his body and his blood. 

Now, let me pause before I say anything else and acknowledge that I realize many of you have Catholic backgrounds, or Catholic family members, or even identify now as Catholic. I don’t presume to represent what every Catholic person believes, just like I wouldn’t presume to represent what every Methodist or Presbyterian or Baptist or Pentecostal believes. 

I spent about five years of my life in New Orleans, where the predominant religion is Catholicism. I should add that here in Metro DC, about one in five people identify as Catholic. I have many friends who are Catholic for whom I have great respect. When I lived in New Orleans, that’s the first time I really dove in and started studying Catholicism in depth. I met with Catholic church members and leaders. I learned that with Catholicism there are many similarities, obviously, when it comes to what we believe, about God as Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—about the divinity of Jesus, that Jesus is God in the flesh. We agree that he lived a sinless life, died on the cross and rose from the dead. We agree on the sinfulness of humanity and our need for a Savior. There are numerous social issues on which we share common convictions. 

At the same time, there are significant differences. When it comes to the basis for what we believe, we would say there in one basis for our beliefs: the Bible alone. But Catholicism officially teaches that there are three sources of authority: the Bible, church tradition and what’s called the magisterium, which includes the teaching ministry of the church and the authority of the pope. Now I’m not saying every Catholic believes these three things. All three of these sources of authority are authoritative in the Catholic church, which then leads to a variety of other differences, some of which are more significant than others. There are different beliefs about Mary, sin, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Which brings us to Mark 14. 

According to the official teaching of the Roman Catholic church, which to them is as authoritative as the Bible, in the Eucharist—what Catholicism calls the Lord’s Supper—the bread and the wine actually become the body and the blood of Christ. This teaching is called transubstantiation. Listen to this quote from the catechism of the Catholic church:

Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.

Further, they teach this change can only happen when the Lord’s Supper is administered by a priest, who is a designee of the pope, who serves as an intermediary between people and God. According to the catechism, only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so they become the body and blood of the Lord.

Now, if all of this is true, with the bread and wine actually becoming the body and the blood of Christ, then that means when we take the Lord’s Supper, when we receive communion, “we are receiving Christ himself.” That’s an exact quote from the catechism. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself, who has offered himself for us. And if that’s true, then that has significant ramifications for our salvation from sin, according to Catholicism. 

Follow this. If receiving communion means receiving Christ, then to quote, “Communion with the body and blood of Christ increases the participant’s union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins and preserves him from grave sins.” Did you catch that? Taking communion brings forgiveness of sins. Take the meal, receive Christ, obtain forgiveness. This is why, in the words of the Catholic catechism, “As sacrificed, the Eucharist is offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead, and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God.” 

The reason I’m quoting from these places is because I hope you’re seeing that this is no minor difference from what we teach. This is not just a random debate for theologians. How you understand the Lord’s Supper affects how you understand salvation. And we could say the same, by the way, for things like baptism, because the Catholic church teaches similar things about baptism. Follow this: If the Lord’s Supper or baptism are means by which we actually receive Christ and experience forgiveness, then that’s extremely significant. This makes doing these works—being baptized, taking the Lord’s supper, going through confirmation or doing confession—become the means by which we receive salvation. 

For example, just think about baptism and confirmation. The Catholic catechism teaches this:

Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of a new birth in baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God, were they not to confer baptism shortly after birth.

So you need to be baptized in the Catholic church to become a child of God. And when you’re baptized, follow this:

By baptism all sins are forgiven—original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn, nothing remains that would impede their entry into the kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God. 

So they teach that when you are baptized, even as an infant, all your sins are forgiven. 

Then follow this, to tie it with confirmation: “It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.” Are you getting the picture here? Based on all of this, we see a process of doing a variety of works in order to receive salvation. Be baptized when you’re born, go through confirmation, participate in confession, take the Lord’s Supper continually, all the way up to last rites in the moments before you die. Which makes sense. If I can receive more forgiveness and grace by taking more communion, I want to take it continually, particularly in my last moments of life. One Catholic church leader in New Orleans described this to me as a “theology of covering bases.” You want to cover as many bases as you can before God, from birth to death. 

Now respectfully, what I want you to see is that such a process of covering bases misses the whole point of the gospel—the good news of God’s grace—and the Bible’s clear teaching. Ephesians 2:8 says that it is by grace you have been saved through faith, period, not of your own doing. It’s the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast (Romans 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; Galatians 2). All the way back to the beginning of the Bible in Genesis, righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe, period. It is for those who believe in the work of Jesus, not in our work. 

Our works of being baptized or taking the Lord’s Supper or confessing our sins can be done directly through Jesus; we don’t need to go through a priest when Jesus is our High Priest. All these works are the fruit of being saved by faith. They’re not prerequisites for being saved through work, through our effort. 

All of this is why something called the Reformation happened centuries ago. As the Bible began to be printed in the language of common people and they started reading it for themselves, they realized the church was adding a lot of things to what the Bible taught, including what Jesus was teaching in Mark 14. When Jesus says, “This is my body and this is my blood,” he used a verb that frequently means represents. When Jesus said this to his disciples, obviously his body was still present in front of them and his blood was still in his veins.

In a similar way to how Jesus says in other places, “I am the door,” “I am the vine” or “I am the light,” he is pointing us to powerful pictures and symbols of deep and awesome realities that go far beyond words. There is nothing anywhere in the Bible that points us to these elements actually becoming the body and blood of Jesus in such a way that we receive Christ and forgiveness when we eat and drink this meal. It actually misses the whole point of what Jesus is saying at this meal, which is that there is no work we can do to earn forgiveness from God. The only thing we contribute to our salvation is our sin, which is why we need his blood and his body as a sacrifice on a cross to cover over our sins. 

Just think about how this is evident even in the context surrounding this passage. Right before the Lord’s Supper Jesus predicted Judas’ betrayal of him. Look at verse 18: “And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.’” Taking the Lord’s Supper is kind of sandwiched in the middle. Jesus first looked to one of the disciples who was going to betray him. Then read what happens right after that: 

26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

So follow this. Right before the meal, Jesus talks about how one of the disciples is going to betray him. Right after the meal, Jesus talks about how all of them are going to fall away and that the most prominent disciple, Peter, is going to deny him. Peter says, “There’s no way I’ll do that.” And the rest of the disciples all said the same. But by verse 50, by the end of this chapter, all of them have fled Jesus and Peter has denied Jesus three times, just like Jesus said. 

Don’t miss the point. This supper was not about what these guys could do to earn salvation by their own efforts. This supper was all about how these guys needed the grace of God. That’s what Jesus was offering to sinners who, despite their best intentions, could not overcome their sin by their own effort. Jesus took this moment at this Passover to remind them of this once-a-year moment when God’s people came together to remember how God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt—through their faith in the blood of a sacrificial lamb. Then God brought them to a mountain. You can read about all this in Exodus 12 and Exodus 24. God’s people came to this mountain and offered sacrifices for their sin. As the blood of those sacrifices was poured over them, God initiated a covenant with them. They sat down on the mountain and had a meal with God.

So now Jesus—God in the flesh—sits down for a meal with his disciples and says, “hey trusted in the blood of a lamb, in the blood of sacrifices, to experience communion with God.” Throughout the Old Testament—the old covenant—more and more sacrifices were offered. Then Jesus explains, “I’m about to change everything in a new covenant. I’m about to give my body and shed my blood on a cross as a once-for-all sacrifice for your sin. I am the Lamb. I am the bread of life. My body and my blood are about to make the way for you to be in covenant relationship with God for all of eternity, based not on your efforts for me, but based on my love for you.”

Jesus was not just doing this for those guys on that day; he was doing this for many people. He was doing this for you and me. Jesus was saying to those men, and to each of us right now, “I am not giving you a list of things to do to come to God.” That’s what every other religion in the world is based on, a list of things to do, prayers to pray, motions to go through. No. If you have to take the Lord’s Supper or get baptized to earn grace, you’ve missed the whole point of grace. You can’t earn grace. You receive it. You believe it. 

Jesus was saying to those men then, and  to you and me right now, “I love you so much that I will give my body and my blood for you. Trust me to cover over your sins and change your life forever.” This changes everything. This changes how we view and take this meal every Sunday. We have not gathered today to celebrate our efforts to get to God; we’ve gathered today to celebrate God’s grace in pursuing sinners like us. We are not taking the Lord’s Supper to be forgiven of our sins; we are taking the Lord’s Supper because we’re forgiven of our sins through faith in Jesus. By faith in Jesus, we have fellowship with God—communion with God—symbolized by this meal with God, when we feast on Jesus’ love for us and his presence by his Spirit in us. 

As a significant side note, all of this does not take away from the beauty, and even the mystery, of the Lord’s Supper. This is a spiritual meal unlike any other, that leads us to examine our sin, to confess it, to reflect on his mercy and feast on his grace through his presence with us. By the way, we are able to experience this, not because a human priest is here giving us these elements, but because Jesus is our High Priest in heaven and we have an open invitation into the throne room of God through him. 

This is the greatest news in the world. Any sinner—no matter who you are or what you’ve done—the way is open for you to come to God through the body and the blood of Jesus. This doesn’t just affect the way we view this meal; this affects the way we view all of our worship. We come together today to worship the God who meets us where we are and pursues us with his mercy. We come to this gathering today with all kinds of struggles, hurts and heartaches. For some of us, our faith is hanging by a string. We don’t feel like we have a lot to offer. And that’s the point. We don’t have a lot to offer. We’re worshiping the God who offers forgiveness of our sins, strength in our weakness, joy in our circumstances and hope amidst the sorrow and suffering this world brings. And it doesn’t stop there. When you and I wake up tomorrow morning, God meets us with new mercy then. Which leads us to worship from the moment we rise. We don’t get up tomorrow morning and get alone with God to pray because we think we have to or we think our effort will earn favor with God. We rise in the morning to pray because the body and blood of Jesus have opened the door for us to have communion with God anywhere, everywhere, at any time. We live in this grace. We open his Word, not as a mere religious ritual, but because the God of the universe has spoken to us and we love to hear from him and walk with him by grace through faith.

That’s not just a one-time decision; that’s a lifestyle. Every moment of every day we live by grace through faith in Jesus. Mark it down. We are not a people trying to earn our way to God through our efforts. We are a people who by faith in the body and blood of Jesus have been forgiven of all our sin and have been freed to experience life to the full every moment of every day for all of eternity in communion with God. This is truth worth giving our lives for.

So let me tell you a few stories of men and women who have given their lives for what this word “is” in Mark 14 means. Travel with me to England in 1555, during a time when the church in England was under fire, literally, from a royal foe named Queen Mary, from whom we get the term Bloody Mary. Over the next four years, 288 people were burned at the stake for their faith in the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone. Men and women, church leaders, common laborers, children. A man named J.C. Ryle wrote this:

The first to break the ice and cross the river as a martyr in Mary’s reign was a guy named John Rogers. Rogers received his education at Cambridge and became a Catholic priest, but then became quickly disillusioned with the teachings of the Catholic church. In God’s providence, he found himself in Holland where he met a guy by the name of William Tyndale, who was translating the Bible into English. Tyndale taught Rogers the Bible and the gospel, and Rogers would never be the same.

When Tyndale was arrested months after they met, he left his Old Testament manuscripts with Rogers, who in the days to come would compile them into a complete English Bible under the code name Thomas Matthew. The “Matthew’s Bible” would become the first officially authorized version of the Bible in the English language, God using this man to open eyes and minds to the truths in God’s Word and how they culminated in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Rogers went on to pastor in London, where he lived with his wife Arianna and their ten children, with one more on the way, when King Edward VI died and Queen Mary took the throne on Thursday. Rogers knew that if he preached the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone that Sunday, his life would be in danger, but he boldly preached that gospel anyway, in what would become his last sermon. 

The next week Rogers was placed under house arrest, then imprisoned for months in cruel conditions, until January 1555, when Rogers was condemned to die. He had not been able to communicate with his wife the entire time he was in prison. He had never met his youngest child. So he pleaded for an opportunity to see them, or at least speak to her, before he died. That request was refused. 

The next morning he was roused from his cell. He was led outside into the streets of the parish he once pastored. He walked in the shadow of the church building where he had preached. Thousands of spectators were lining the way and in that sea of faces he saw his familyhis wife holding a baby, the first time he’d ever laid eyes on his youngest child, with ten of his other children standing beside, looking at their dad.

One writer said, “Their anxious faces were all fixed on him and their voices of pain reached his ears.” Another remarked, “It’s difficult to even imagine anything more tender and affecting than this parting scene, this last adieu to a beloved wife and so numerous an offspring, all in tears. He stood the shock with the feelings of a father and husband, but with the unshaken confidence of a Christian marching to his death.”

John Foxe, in his Book of Martyrs, tells us that he walked calmly to the stake. 

When he arrived, the sheriff gave him one last opportunity to recant, to revoke his confession of faith, to which he responded, “That which I have preached, I will seal with my blood.” Within moments the fire at Rogers’ feet was set ablaze. His body slowly began to burn. As he lifted his arms high in the air, the enthusiasm of the crowds knew no bounds. They rent the air with thunderous applause.

For up to that day, no one knew how men like Rogers would behave in the face of death, and they could hardly believe that some would actually give their bodies to be burned for their faith. And some it would be. Within days, others would face the same fate. John Leaf was a teenager who was an apprentice of John Rogers. He was arrested and asked if he believed what Rogers taught. Leaf answered not only did he believe every doctrine Rogers had taught him from God’s Word, but he was ready to meet the same death that Rogers had faced. And so he did. History says he was burned alive with a cheerfulness and an unshaken resolution that were remarkable for one so young. 

John Rogers, John Leaf—I could read 286 other names who followed in the fire of their footsteps across England over the next four years. So here’s the question. Why did they die? As I studied their lives and their deaths, the answer to that question totally shocked me. A guy named J.C. Ryle, whom I’ve mentioned, wrote a paper entitled, “The Burning of Our English Reformers and the Reason Why They Were Burned.” He basically was saying, “It’s not just generally this or that.” He wrote:

The principal reason why they were burned was because they refused one of the peculiar doctrines of the Roman’s church. On that doctrine, in almost every case, hinged their life or death. If they admitted it, they might live; if they refused it, they must die. 

The doctrine in question was the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the consecrated elements of the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. Did they or did they not believe that the body and blood of Christ were reallythat is corporally, literally, locally, materiallypresent under the forms of bread and wine after the words of consecration were pronounced? Did they or did they not? That was the simple question. If they did not believe and admit it, they were burned. 

John Rogers recounted his interrogation by the church, saying, “I was asked whether I believed in the sacrament to be the very body and blood of our Savior Christ that was born of the virgin Mary and hanged on the cross, really and substantially. I answered, ‘I think it to be false. I cannot understand really and substantially to signify otherwise than corporally. But corporally Christ is only in Heaven and so Christ cannot be corporally in your sacrament.’”

The same statement was made by subsequent men and women, church leaders, common laborers. Rawlins White was a fisherman who couldn’t read. He had his son taught to read, so that every night his family would gather around the table after dinner and the boy would read the New English Bible to the family. In the course of doing so, Rawlins White came to a belief in salvation through faith in the grace of God. When that belief became public, he was condemned to die.

History tells us he came to the place where his poor wife and children stood weeping and the sight of them so pierced his heart that tears trickled down his face. When everything was ready, they set White on the stake, then erected a stand upon which a priest stepped up and began speaking about the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. White cried out, “Ah, do you presume to prove your false doctrine by Scripture. Look in the text. Did not Christ say, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’? Immediately they lit the fire. Foxe says his legs were so quickly consumed by the flames that his body briskly fell over and burned. 

John Hullier was taken to the stake, bound with a chain, placed in a pitch barrel. Fire was applied to the reeds and the wood. As he began to burn, people started throwing books into the fire to be burned with him. One of the books was on the communion service, the book that countered Catholic teaching on the Lord’s Supper and taught salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Hullier caught the book, held it high above the flames, opened it and read it joyfully until the fire and smoke deprived him of sight. Then he pressed the book to his heart, thanking God for giving him this precious gift in his last moments.

And it wasn’t just men. Annes Snoth, Anne Wright, Joan Soale, Joan Catmer, four women alongside one man, John Lomas, questioned concerning transubstantiation and sentenced to burn together on two stakes in one fire, where Foxe says they sang Hosannas until the breath of life was extinct. 

Are we hearing this? Why did these men and women die? They died for the Lord’s Supper. They died because they knew the doctrine of transubstantiation undercut gospel grace. If eating communion is necessary to experience forgiveness, if works are needed for our salvation, then we’re saying God’s grace is not enough and our efforts are needed to obtain God’s mercy—and they would have nothing to do with it. 

These were not cultural Christians for whom truth was trivial. These were biblical Christians who knew biblical truth is worth your life. So a pastor looks into the eyes of his wife and eleven children, one of whom has he has never even held. A fisherman looks into the eyes of his wife and children, including his little boy who first read the gospel to him, and together they say, “Salvation is by God’s grace, apart from your effort, and it’s worth your life. Kids, salvation is all about grace. My wife, salvation is all about grace. If we lose this, we lose everything. Our hope is not in our work; our hope is in his mercy.”

This truth, this gospel, is the same message you and I have right now. It is the greatest news in the world today, just like it was then. I pray that God would raise up men and women, students and children, all across this church who say, “It’s worth my life. It’s worth my family. It’s worth me giving my life to share it in the world.” 

There are people all around us—Catholic, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, or they may even claim to be Christian—put those labels aside. Just ask people, “Do you know what Jesus has done for you? Do you know that Jesus, God in the flesh, has given his body and shed his blood to pay the price for your sins? I invite you to put your faith in Jesus.” Let’s give our lives spreading this good news in this city and around the world. In a world where three billion people have no access to this good news right now, surely we want to get it to them. 

Let’s go back to our text. Notice one more word: “until.” Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” I love this. Jesus was having this last supper with his disciples here in Mark 14. Just a matter of hours after the supper, he gave his body and blood on the cross for the sins of all who will trust in him. Then the good news keeps getting better, because he didn’t stay dead for long. Three days later he was alive again. He came to these same disciples, all except for Judas, and he said to them, “Now go, make disciples of all the nations. Spread this good news everywhere. One day I’m coming back and together we’re going to drink and feast like no other in the Kingdom of God, in a new heaven and a new earth.”

A couple weeks ago, somebody sent me a drawing by a brother named Hyatt Moore called “The Last Supper.” I don’t know if you can tell the difference between this and Leonardo da Vinci’s paining, but this one is not Jesus and 12 Jewish men. It’s Jesus and people from every nation, tribe and tongue, gathered around the throne. This is where all of history is headed. People from every nation, tribe and tongue, men and women, boys and girls, celebrating the grace of God for all eternity. 

This points us to our real home and this is why it’s worth giving our lives in this world, because this world is not our home. 

When John Rogers died, the French ambassador, after observing Rogers’ death, wrote home with this description of this scene: “It was as if this man was walking to his wedding.” 

Rowland Taylor was about two miles from the place where he would die. The sheriff asked him how he felt and he replied, “God be praised, Master Sheriff. Never better, for now I’m almost home. I lack but just two styles to go over, then I will be at my Father’s house.”

John Bradford, who was burned with the teenager John Leaf that I mentioned earlier, kissed his stake, then turned to this teenage boy, saying, “Be of good comfort, brother, for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night.” 

Helen Stark, a mom with a newborn child, was sentenced to be put in a sack and drowned. Her husband was also sentenced to die, but separate from her. He would die first, then her. She followed him to his execution, gave him a kiss and said, “Husband, rejoice, for we have lived together many joyful days, but this day in which we must die ought to be the most joyful unto us both, because we must have a joy forever. Therefore I will not bid you goodnight, for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the kingdom of heaven.” Then she was taken to the place where she would be drowned. She entrusted her newborn child and other children to her neighbor’s care, then was plunged to her death.

So I come back to the question we started with. Are you willing to lose your life over one word? It’s a good question for us to ask—and to ask it humbly. We’ve seen already in this text where Peter said, “I’ll die,” and in another moment was denying Jesus. I pray that God would raise up in me and in all of us—church leaders, common laborers—to use the language from England and for all of us to say, “This gospel is worth my life,” and to show that this week. 

It’s worth our reputation. More important than my reputation this week, and your reputation at work, is that we share this good news. More important than other priorities, more important than our schedules, we want to share this gospel. This is where we spend our money, getting this gospel to spread across the city and to the ends of the earth. This is why we pray, “God, I’ll go wherever, in such a way that if it ever comes to that moment when I face life or death, that it would be clear, by God’s grace, what my answer would be.”

If there’s hesitation to lose your life over a word, over the gospel—which I’m guessing there is in many if not most of us—I want to encourage you to ask yourself what is it that you’re holding on to in this world that’s more important to you than the good news of God’s grace? Let God open your eyes to things you’re holding on to that may be good but are temporary, that are keeping you from living for what is supreme and eternal—a relationship with God by grace through faith.

I want to give you just a moment to reflect before God. Are you willing to lose your life over a word? After you’ve spent a moment reflecting on that, then I will come back and lead us. Just spend a moment before God with that question. 

If you’re not already, I want to invite you to bow your head and close your eyes, just between you and God. I’d ask the most fundamental question: have you received the grace of God through the gospel in your life? Have you trusted in Jesus alone as the Savior of your sins and the Lord of your life? Have you put your faith in him and received his grace toward you? 

If your answers to these questions are not a resounding yes in your heart, I invite you, right now, just to say to God, “Today is the day, God. I want to put aside all my sin and all my effort to overcome my sin. Today I put my trust in you. Please, by the body and blood of Jesus, forgive me of my sin. I trust in him and what he has done for me. I trust in you, O God, to save me of my sin and to lead me in a life of communion with you.”

When you pray that, and for all who have put your faith in Jesus, we just pray, God, help us not to resort back to a works-based, effort-driven life because we feel like we should or need to or have to. God, we pray that you would help us live by grace through faith in Jesus, daily to commune with you and walk with you, as the overflow of your love for us and your pursuit of us. God, we pray that you would help us give our lives, by your grace, for this gospel, this week, to spread this gospel. We pray that you would help us to proclaim and share this with others, especially in a place where we have the freedom to do that. Help us not to value our reputation, schedule, comfort or other priorities in this world more than leading other people to eternal life in you. Help us to boldly share the gospel. Lead us wherever you want in the world for the spread of this gospel. Use our church family to spread this gospel to the ends of the earth. 

And God, for any of us, if there ever comes a point when life or death are on the line because of proclaiming your gospel, we pray that we would choose obedience to you over breath in this world because we know this world is not our home. We can’t wait, Jesus, to see you, to be with you in your Kingdom, in a new heaven and a new earth. Help us live with the constant reminder that this world is not our home. In Jesus’ name we pray all of this. Amen.

Mark 14:22-31 ESV

Institution of the Lord’s Supper
22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial
26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

An understanding of the biblical gospel is needed to understand biblical ordinances. How you understand the Lord’s Supper affects how you understand salvation. Reformers staked their very lives on their convictions that the words in the Bible matter.

This chart shows some similarities and differences between the Bible and the official teachings of Catholicism.


Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) – the identity of Jesus as God in the flesh – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – the sinfulness of humanity, and the need for a Savior – and numerous social issues on which we share common convictions.


Official Catholic Teaching

What the Bible Says

  • There are three sources of authority: the Bible, church tradition, and what’s called the magisterium (which includes the teaching ministry of the church and the authority of the pope) – all three of these sources are authoritative in the Catholic church.
  • There is one final authority – the Bible alone.


  • In the Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper), the bread and the wine actually become the body and the blood of Christ. They call this transubstantiation and believe taking communion brings forgiveness of sins.
  • When you’re baptized as an infant, and ultimately confirmed in your faith at Confirmation when you’re older, your sins are forgiven.
  • The good news of God’s grace is that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by our works – Ephesians 2:8. Righteousness comes by faith in Christ’s work, not our work.  Baptism, taking the Lord’s Supper, and confessing our sins,  are the fruits of being saved by faith, not prerequisites for being saved through work. 


David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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