Jesus had just taught His disciples that each person must “take up his cross and follow Me” (v. 24). He declared that human effort to save our lives results in death, but surrendering our lives to Him will bring salvation. In these razor-like remarks, the Lord cuts a clear path for His disciples to walk. It requires the understanding and acceptance that true discipleship means forsaking all selfish ambition. No longer does righteousness consist of observing an external legal code. Righteousness is now defined by the Person of Jesus and not by the Law. This Person, who is righteousness incarnate, requires our loyalty. True discipleship requires total commitment without distraction or compromise.
With this wholehearted pursuit of discipleship, Jesus promises a reward at His return. God is faithful to remember our service of love. Though our entrance into heaven has to do with our faith in Christ alone, His future reward to us is based on our fidelity, obedience, and service here on earth.