“To die is gain No resurrection comes without a grave The sun descends before another day The path You have to me It is the same”
These words sung by Mitch Wong in his song “Burial” are as beautiful to the soul as to the ear. A key part of our faith is often forgotten; we ignore the command for Christians to die to self. We celebrate the beauty of healing and forgiveness but forget to celebrate the beauty of surrender.
When Jesus sent his disciples out to heal and preach the gospel, he commanded, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:37-39).
These verses highlight the real meaning of surrender. They give the cross a more painful resonance with Christians. In this passage, Jesus forbids loving even our family more than Him. Otherwise, we are “not worthy” of Him. At first, this sounds harsh, even unnatural, and not right; after all, family is a godly establishment. Scripture continually shows the value of family. For example, honoring your father and mother is listed among the ten commandments, and in Ephesians the church is called Christ’s bride (Eph. 5:22-33). Family is a sacred bond that Jesus is in no way seeking to refute. So, this verse requires us to deeply consider what could be even more important than family and lends importance to whatever that may be.
Jesus makes three statements. First, He states that whoever loves their “father,” “mother,” “son,” or “daughter” more than Him is not worthy. Second, He says that neither is the one who “does not take up their cross” worthy. Finally, He shares that “finding life” is losing it, but “losing life” for His sake is finding it. What ties together sacrificing family, bearing your cross, and losing your life? Surrender. This is not Jesus saying to throw out family. This is Jesus saying that following Him costs us everything. Our most valuable treasures, closest relational ties, and even our lives must be handed over.
The cross is a common symbol of forgiveness to Christians in our culture today. We hold it up high, proclaiming Jesus’ mercy and sacrifice. But while there is value in recognizing His grace, it must precede the moment we lay everything we are at the foot of the cross. It can only follow surrender. The image of the cross should both remind us of Christ’s sacrifice and prepare us for our own.
If, as you read this, your mind is flooded with things you couldn’t dream of giving up, think about the last words in this verse: “whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Despite the pain of letting go, Jesus offers a more valuable life for us, where He is in complete control.
Towards the song’s end, Wong sings,
"You're the miracle after the burial For no grave can hold Your love all-powerful You are making all things bright and beautiful You're alive in me”
The “miracle” is the life of a surrendered soul. The soul who has buried its old self to be raised by Christ.