A member of this congregation experienced a tragedy when her father was suddenly killed in an accident. He was driving home one Wednesday afternoon, and as he was topping a hill, he met a tractor-trailer with an empty flatbed coming from the other direction on a two-lane highway. As he was making the turn at the top of the hill, the tractor-trailer started down the hill. The tractor held the road, but the empty flatbed trailer flung around and wiped Bob off the road and into eternity.
Referring to the timing of Bob's deathand our owna friend said to me, "You don't know, do you?" The Lord used those five words to direct me to the Scripture I want to share with you this morning.
You don't know, do you?
Life can end abruptly.
Jesus' concern in Luke 12:1321 was that people know that they just don't know. So often we look at this text as a lesson in stewardship or covetousnessthat's how my Bible labels it. It seems to me, however, the great message of the text is: You must be ready.
That was the message for the man in the story. You've got everything else in order. You know how to farm. You know how to manage. You know how to order your business life. That ability and the blessing of God upon your fields have brought great increase. You've taken care of many things. But, you foolyou don't know that tonight your life is required. Are you ready?
Jesus is implying that this man, though he gave his attention to many other things, was not ready for death. I'm not sure we can ever be ready to experience the emotional detachment from our spouses, children, and friends. But that's not what Jesus was talking about. He also isn't referring to being ready financially so that one doesn't leave undue burdens to his or her family. Jesus was talking about another readiness. He was talking about being ready for the time that begins the rest of eternity, the return of Jesus. He was talking about judgment.
The text cries out to us, You never really know, do you? and follows up by saying: Are you ready? Are you ready to stand before almighty God?
In all the main biblical texts speaking about the return of Jesus, we're told it is appointed for man to die and then face judgment. We're told by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5 that we all must appear before the judgment seat of God to receive judgment based upon what we have done in this world. The question is: Are you ready? This burden is on my heart this morning, my friends. Are you ready?
Take Jesus as your defense attorney.
How can you be ready? The Scriptures tell us we'll stand before the bar of God and the books will be opened. The books will contain all that we have ever done or said or thought or hoped for. Some things are seen and known and understood in this world. Other things are private in the deep recesses of our hearts. Scripture assures us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that when we stand before God, we will not make the grade if we are still clothed in sin. There we will stand before God as our judge.
You had better have the best defense attorney you can find. Here's the good news that goes along with the bad: I know such an attorney. The Bible says if we sin we also have an advocate with the Fathera counselor, a defense attorney. Who is it? First John 1 says it is Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. On that day when Jesus comes again, we will stand before the bar of God in all of our uncleanness and sin, separated from God for eternity because he is holy. In our sinfulness, up steps our defense attorney.
He says: Jesus Christ, your Honor, for the defendant.
The Father will say: Plead your case.
Jesus will say: You will note, your Honor, that in the book, Rick Wolling has done this and that, and said this and hoped for that, and he is deserving of your judgment in eternal punishment. But the case I plead for him is not what he has done, but what I have done for him. Father, in perfect obedience to you, I have gone to the cross, and he has accepted me.
As we stand before God in all of our sin, Jesus Christ will step up for us. As the Father sees us, he will see us only in the righteousness and cleanliness of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Though we deserve punishment for our sin, we will be declared justified by the Judge, just as if we have not sinned. Then we will know what Paul said in Romans 8:1, that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but justification and welcoming into the presence of God. We will hear these words: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord." How can one be ready? By having a good defense attorney.
How do you get a good defense attorney? You simply ask. You acknowledge to Jesus, "On that day of judgment, I won't make the cut. On that day, I will be excluded from the presence of God for eternity." Jesus will answer: I have been standing at the door knocking, wanting to come into your heart and life. I want to be the Lord of your life as you live day-by-day, and then for eternity to live with you, having first pleaded your case before the Father.
My friends, this is what it means to accept Christ: It means to recognize that we need him as we stand before the Father and to come to him in faith and say, "Lord, Jesus, I need you to protect me on that day. I need you to be my advocate. I need you to be my Savior, that I might live with God for eternity."
We don't know, do we? But we can be ready. Be Ready! Don't be a fool. Today your life may be required of you.