Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
John Stott paraphrased verse 35 this way :
“If you insist on holding on to yourself and living for yourself and refusing to let yourself go, you will lose yourself. But if you are prepared to lose yourself, to give yourself away in love for God and your fellow human beings, then in that moment of complete abandon, when you think have lost everything, the miracle takes place and you find yourself.
That miracle is the BORN AGAIN experience. A new heart and a new spirit have been born. And the Spirit given by the Lord God has begun the good work in conforming one to be like Christ to love God and fellow men perfectly. That is the turning point of repentance. That is the point reached in realizing one’s spiritual bankruptcy and turn to the Lord for salvation or freedom from the penalty, power and presence of sin in the crucified, living and coming Savior. That is the point of resolve to be a disciple of Christ in denying oneself, taking up the cross and following Him.