The statement Jesus is making is also specific for those who claim to follow Jesus or claim to have surrendered to Jesus. This is indicated from Jesus' previous statement - regarding their pulling up stakes on their material life.
Saving or losing "life."
Is Jesus talking about the death of the body?
Jesus is not discussing the physical body at all in fact. The word "life" is being translated from the Greek word ψυχή (psychē), which means, according to the lexicon, "the breath of life" and "the vital force which animates the body... of animals... of men;" as well as "the soul - the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions."
So we see that Jesus accepted and taught of the existence of the spirit-person who operates the temporary physical body. And he is referring to the existence of this spirit-person in this statement.
As we've discussed, we also know scientifically that we are not these physical bodies, but are the spirit-person existing within them. (Here is the science.)
So how does this spirit-person become lost or saved according to Jesus' statement here?
Does it come by staring at the cross in church and making the empty pledge, "I'm saved because I accept that Jesus died for my sins"? Nope.
This is clarified here, as Jesus says, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it." This means that all the banter about wanting to be saved, and then claiming to be saved because we wanted to be saved and we accepted Jesus as dying for my sins so we are now saved is all bogus. Those of us who thought we were saved were wrong. We are not saved.
Why? Because we want to be saved.
Wanting to be saved is a self-centered ambition.
Wanting to be saved is about me. Thus there is no difference between the baby's "I want candy" and the adult's "I want sex" and the church-goer's "I want to be saved" from this perspective. These are all self-centered desires.
Jesus clarifies what it takes to become saved. As we track the two statements between 9:23 and 9:24, we see that Jesus spells out here that a person becomes saved when one follows Jesus' teachings, and becomes saved only when one "loses their life for" Jesus.
But what does it mean to "lose our life for" Jesus?
Many sectarian teachers and their followers can get pretty emotional as they proclaim or invoke "surrender to Jesus." Many will cry out and become gleeful as they pledge they have "surrendered to Jesus." Yet many of these same people will walk out of the church and continue their self-centered lives as they did before their supposed "surrender." What is all the hoopla about then?
It is about fitting in. Feeling good. Feeling we are cured. Getting a good cry out. Whatever the focus - even if it is truly about being "saved" - it is ultimately self-centered.
So it is pretty much useless. To proclaim one has "surrendered to Jesus" while continuing to focus our lives upon ourselves - or the extension of ourselves, our family - has no value. The supposed surrender is only an empty word.
Jesus clarified this directly:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)What Jesus is talking about is a shift in our interests. Our desires. A person who "loses their life" for Jesus is a person who loses their self-centered interests and decides they simply want to please Jesus. They are finished with their own self-centered concerns, whether it is being saved, becoming wealthy, being healthy, having a good job, winning the football championship or whatever.
When a person really "loses their life" for Jesus, these self-centered interests are replaced by those interests that please Jesus. A person who "loses their life" for Jesus is a person who only wants to do what pleases Jesus.
And what pleases Jesus?
We know what pleases Jesus by his teachings. And what were those teachings?
Jesus' teachings revolved around loving and serving the Supreme Being - doing God's will. For example, he taught the importance of praying to God and praising God's Holy Names, saying:
"When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come. May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Luke 11:2)(Or King James version: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.")
Yes, we can see in this prayer and in other statements, that Jesus' teachings focused on doing God's will - as clearly stated above in Matthew 7:21. This means that pleasing Jesus means doing what pleases God. Why? Because Jesus loves God and he wants to please God.
And Jesus' primary - first and foremost - teaching?
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)Doing these things will, as Jesus puts it, "save" our lives.
This means that being saved means not being concerned about being saved. It means that being saved comes automatically when we put the Supreme Being first in our lives. When we seek Him. And we seek to come to know Him and love Him. And we seek to please Him.