Sermon title:

Prepare to Meet Your Maker—BEFORE You Die!

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, August 2, 2020



Prepare to meet your maker!”


Prepare to meet your maker!”

We hear that in books, on TV, in movies,

even in cartoons.

A man holding a gun typically says it

to the person the gun barrel is pointed at:

Prepare to meet your maker!”


Are you prepared to meet your maker?


Well, if you first meet your maker when you die

you’re not prepared.


God wants us to know him while we’re still alive

in this world,

not wait until we pass into the afterlife.


Those who avoided and ignored God all their lives

won’t have a pleasant meeting

when they meet their maker.


He calls us to come to know him now, while we’re alive.


That’s the New Testament arrangement.


In the Old Testament, there were prophets and priests

ministering as intermediaries

between God and the people.


After God spoke to the people of Israel

from a mountaintop in a thundering voice

that terrified them,

the people of Israel begged Moses

to act as their intermediary

between them and God.


We read at Exodus 20:18,

18 When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sounding of the ram’s horn, and the mountain enveloped in smoke, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19“Speak to us yourself and we will listen,” they said to Moses. “But do not let God speak to us, or we will die.”


They were afraid, and didn’t want to have

a direct, personal relationship with God.


And so, God used prophets and priests

as intermediaries

between God and the people of Israel

in the Old Testament arrangement.


But he used one of those prophets—Jeremiah

to foretell that there would later be a different

New Covenant, or New Testament arrangement.


At Jeremiah 31:34, God said,

No longer will each man teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD.


So, in that New Covenant, or New Testament arrangement

ALL believers would know God personally.


They would no longer need prophets or priests

to serve as intermediaries between them and God.


they will all know me,” God said.


And that’s the New Testament arrangement

that we live under today as Christians.


God wants us all to know him personally.


So, if God is just someone you read about in the Bible—

if God is just someone you hear about at church—

but you don’t know God personally,

you have a problem that needs fixing.


And that fix involves Jesus.


God sent his only Son, to be born as a human,

to make it possible for us to know God personally.


And, for many months now,

we’ve been going through the Gospels

to look at everything Jesus said and did on earth.

We’ve followed his 3-1/2 year ministry to its conclusion,

when Christ died on the cross,

and then rose from the dead after 3 days.

After rising from the dead, Jesus revealed himself

first to Mary Magdalene, near the empty tomb.


Then he met the other women

who had gone there to prepare his body for burial,

and let them, too, know that he was alive.


The Apostles refused to believe the women,

but Jesus appeared to them later that same day,

and removed all doubt

that he was risen from the dead.


Then, over the course of the next few days,

he appeared to them again, a number of times.


There were lots of ways

our Lord Jesus could have revealed himself

to the disciples,

after he rose from the dead.

On one of the occasions when he met with them

he told them at Matthew 28:18,

All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.”


His post-resurrection appearances

could have been very impressive.


And sometimes the risen Christ did reveal himself

in ways that would ‘knock your socks off.’


For example,

he first appeared to the Apostle Paul

in a blinding light, that left Paul blind for days.


And when Jesus showed himself to the Apostle John

in the vision of Revelation Chapter 1,

John described his vision of Christ like this:


14 His head and his hair were white as white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace. His voice was like the voice of many waters. 16 He had seven stars in his right hand. Out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining at its brightest.


17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man.


Now that was an impressive appearance

by the risen Christ.


And the Apostle John was awe-struck,

as any of us would have been.


I think we would all react to a vision of Christ like that,

in the way John reacted, when he said,

“I fell at his feet like a dead man.”


But, Jesus made his appearances to his disciples

in the days following his bodily resurrection—

--and before he ascended to the Father.

And, when he appeared to them,

he was just as he always was

when he was with them—

except for the scars from the nails

on his hands and feet, and

the wound on his side.


He was the same kind and gentle Jesus

they had come to know over the 3-1/2 years

they spent with him.


Sometimes, he kept them

from recognizing him immediately,

as was the case when he appeared

to two disciples on the road to Emmaus.


He may have hidden his identity simply

by hiding his face with the hood of his garment,

or he may have miraculously

kept their eyes from recognizing him.

Other times, he greeted them openly,

and they saw his face right away.


But it was always the kind and gentle Jesus

they had always known.


This morning, in John Chapter 21,

we’re going to take a look

at one of those encounters the Apostles had

with the risen Christ.

It evidently occurred some days after

Jesus first brought joy

by showing himself alive to them

on the day he arose.


But this appearance was also some time before

he rose into the sky before their eyes

and ascended to the Father in heaven.


Our Lord revealed himself very casually

to several of the Apostles

by the sea of Tiberias, also called the sea of Galilee.


John 21:1 tells us how it went:

1 After these things, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I’m going fishing.”


Even though the disciples had left their nets

3-1/2 years earlier, to follow Jesus,

apparently they didn’t give up ownership

of their fishing businesses or boats.


In any case, they still had a fishing boat right there,

available to them.


They told him, “We are also coming with you.” They immediately went out, and entered into the boat. That night, they caught nothing. 4 But when day had already come, Jesus stood on the beach, yet the disciples didn’t know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus therefore said to them, “Children, have you anything to eat?”


It's not surprising that they didn’t recognize Jesus,

because he was standing on the beach,

and, as we’ll see in a moment,

their boat was about 200 cubits off shore,

about the length of a football field.


So, they were quite a distance from him,

and their conversation consisted of shouting,

as you would need to shout to someone

at the far end of a football field.


They answered him, “No.”

6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”

They cast it therefore, and now they weren’t able to draw it in for the multitude of fish. 7 That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!”


This episode reminds us

of the miraculous catch of fish

that got Peter’s attention 3 years earlier,

when Jesus first called Peter

to leave his fishing nets behind,

follow him,

and become a fisher of men.


John, the author of this Gospel account,

refers to himself here as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved,’

and he grasps that it is Jesus on the beach

who again filled their net with fish.


Peter wasn’t as quick to grasp that fact,

but as soon as he did realize that it was Jesus,

Peter was quick to act.


So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around him (for he was naked), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from the land, but about two hundred cubits away), dragging the net full of fish. 9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”


11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of great fish, one hundred fifty-three; and even though there were so many, the net wasn’t torn.


12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.”


So, it was another miraculous catch of fish--

much like the one that persuaded Peter 3 years earlier

to leave his nets behind

and become a follower of Jesus--

a fisher of men.


But Jesus did it all very casually,

much as he did the first time.


He didn't wave his hands in the air,

and shout a command for the fish to swim into the net.


He didn't call down lightning bolts

or some other dramatic manifestation.


No, he casually told Peter to

Cast the net

on the right side of the boat,

and you will find some.”


And now he said, just as casually,

"Come and eat breakfast!"


Apparently, Jesus was still hiding his face from them,

because we read next that


None of the disciples dared inquire of him, “Who are you?” knowing that it was the Lord.


13 Then Jesus came and took the bread, gave it to them, and the fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus was revealed to his disciples, after he had risen from the dead.


Jesus was now the RISEN Christ,

having in his hands all power in heaven and on earth.


He was God. He was Almighty.


But he conducted himself with the disciples

just as casually as he did earlier

when he walked among them as their teacher.


And he continued his personal relationship,

individually, with each of the disciples.


John referred to himself as 'the disciple Jesus loved,'

but Jesus now took Peter aside, to walk beside him

down the beach, away from the others.


The account goes like this:


15 So when they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?”

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you.”

He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?”

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you.”

He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you have affection for me?”

Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, “Do you have affection for me?” He said to him, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.


In the first two exchanges here,

Jesus and Peter here used different words for “love”

in the Greek manuscript.


Jesus used a form of the word “agape”

which means a principled love,

wishing the best for the object of one’s love.


Peter used a form of the word “philo”

meaning a more emotional, affectionate love.


But the third time, Jesus used Peter’s word,

and asked if he had “affection” for him.


But I don’t think there’s any hidden significance to that.


In fact, it’s common for English translations

to translate both expressions simply as “love”

without making a distinction.

I believe that’s because the main point

is that our Lord repeated the question three times

for emphasis—

to show how important to Jesus is

the care and feeding of his sheep.


The first and third times,

Jesus used a word meaning to “feed”

but the second time, he said “tend” or “shepherd.”


And he varied the word he used for “sheep”—

the first time saying “little lambs.”


All of this shows Jesus’ tender loving care for us,

his sheep, his little lambs.


As Peter said, Jesus knew “everything” and he knew

that Peter would have a heart for the flock of God.


But then, the Lord switched to a giving Peter

a more personal message about Peter’s future.


He said to him,

18 Most certainly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you, and carry you where you don’t want to go.”

19 Now he said this, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. When he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”


Scripture doesn’t tell us what happened to Peter,

but Church tradition says that he was crucified.


And this seems to be what Jesus was pointing forward to.


But our Lord concluded by telling Peter to “Follow me.”


I believe it’s important to note

that Jesus used that expression throughout the Gospels:

“Follow me.”

-----------------------------------


It’s common among Christians today

to hear the expression,

“Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.”


But Jesus wants us to do more than just “accept” him.


He wants us to “follow” him.


That’s what he said to Peter and Andrew

3-1/2 years earlier, when he first called them

to be his disciples.


He told them, “Come, follow me!”


And that’s what Christ said to Matthew,

when he found him in his tax collector’s booth.


He said to Matthew, “Follow me!”


And now, after going to the cross, and rising from the dead,

Jesus again says to Peter, “Follow me!”


In fact, this is the invitation Christ gives to all of us.


Earlier at Matthew 16:24 we read,

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.


And that’s true of us today, too.


Accepting” Jesus as your Lord and Savior

is just the beginning.


When you turn to Jesus in prayer,

and you ask him to save you from your sins,

to be your Savior,

you also ask him to be your Lord,

and that means you agree to follow him.


As your Lord, he will lead you in the way you should go.


He will lead you,

but you need to constantly look to him for direction

and follow his leading.


How did Peter react to what Jesus said on the beach?


We read,

20 Then Peter, turning around, saw a disciple following. This was the disciple whom Jesus loved, the one who had also leaned on Jesus’ breast at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is going to betray You?” 21 Peter seeing him, said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”

22 Jesus said to him, “If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.”


Jesus told Peter essentially to

“Mind your own business, and follow me.”


And that’s true of us, too.


Once we turn to Christ, to follow him,

our personal relationship with him is hidden from others.


Just as he had a different relationship with Peter

than he did with John, or with Thomas,

each of us may has

a private, individual walk with Christ.


Others can see the fruitage of our walk with the Lord—

the works that we do,

and the way that we conduct ourselves,

but they can’t peer into

that personal relationship with Christ.


At John 14:21 Jesus said,

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them."

So, we have that promise that he will show himself to us,

but when and how he does that

will vary from one person to another.


It may be through a still, small voice,

speaking to you in your heart,

almost indistinguishable

from your own thoughts.


It may be through little miracles and big miracles

in answer to prayer.


It may be

through God impressing a Scripture on your heart—

or impressing on you that blessed assurance

that you belong to him.


In Romans Chapter 8, the Apostle Paul wrote,


you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God;


While on earth, our Lord Jesus had a closer relationship

with some of the Apostles than with others.


Peter, James and John were sort of an inner circle,

closer to the Lord than others, like Thomas,

who sometimes doubted.


You can help determine your walk with the Lord,

by what you are willing to put into it,

in terms of private, personal prayer

and reading the Bible to hear his voice.


An older lady at a church I visited

expressed it to me this way: she said,


I didn’t come to know God

through any school of theology.

I came to know God

through the school of kneeology.”

She got to know God

through the time she spent in prayer on her knees.


You can’t get to know God through prayer

if you’re not praying.


And it’s more difficult for God to

impress a Scripture on your mind

if you’re not familiar with the Scriptures.


God wants that close, personal relationship with you.


As we saw earlier,

God promised that personal relationship

way back in the Old Testament.


At Jeremiah 31:34, God said,

No longer will each man teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD.

And that’s the relationship Jesus wants us to come into,

when we become his followers.


The time to meet your maker is now.


You don’t want to wait until you die

to ‘meet your maker.’


You don’t want that to be

the day you meet Jesus for the first time.


The time to meet Jesus is right now,

when he’s still welcoming people with open arms

to forgive our sins

and to give us new life as his adopted children.


Now is the time to turn to Jesus in prayer,

and to receive him as your Lord and Savior.


Tell Jesus that you’re sorry for your sins,

and that you want to live the new life

that he calls you to live as his follower.

Give yourself to Christ,

and ask him to save you.


Your prayer can be silent,

between you and Christ alone.


And your prayer can be as simple as,

“Lord Jesus, I’m yours. Save me!”


“Lord Jesus, I’m yours. Save me!”


Don’t put it off, because the time is near.


And your own time may be nearer than you think.


Now is the time to ‘meet your maker.’




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