Summary: If you knew that your time on earth was short – say, just a few months left. How would that change the way you lived? What would you do or say differently?

The Beginning Of The End – Part 2

The Real Cost of Discipleship Revisited

Matthew 16:21-28

If you knew that your time on earth was short – say, just a few months left. How would that change the way you lived? What would you do or say differently?

Most of us would probably put our affairs in order, making sure that the burden of our passing was as close to not being a burden on our loved ones as we could possibly make it. We would try to make sure that all of the loose ends were taken care of. We would probably have some things to say to the people in our lives as well.

We would probably speak very openly and honestly to those we love about the things we want them to know – how much we love them, how sorry we are for the things that we have done or said were wrong or hurtful, how thankful we are for them and how important it has been for them to be in our lives. We would probably try to reconcile with those we have had broken relationships with, especially family members. And, those of us sitting here today would also most likely share with everyone we came in contact with just how important it is for them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Several years ago, I was on staff with a fellow pastor who had been suffering with diabetes and its ill effects for most of his life. He was a single dad with two sons who were the same ages as two of my boys. His name was Mike, and we were close in age.

Mike had lost an eye and was undergoing kidney dialysis once a week. That eventually became almost twice a week. After a couple years of that, the dialysis treatments needed to be more frequent. Mike was getting pretty worn down – dialysis is extremely hard on the whole person and it is harder and herder to bounce back after each successive treatment. It would not be long before the dialysis team would be telling Mike that continuing the treatments was no longer ethical.

One day Mike started letting the people in his life know that he had told his doctors that he would not be back in for dialysis again. He had prayerfully considered everything and he decided that being lucid and dying quickly would be far better for everyone concerned than a prolonged deterioration that would be grim and painful all the way around.

Mike spent a lot of time with his boys, with his folks, and with his sisters and brother. He also invested a lot of time with different members of the church staff, and especially with different ones of the teens. See, Mike was also the Youth Pastor, and the kids loved him.

When we would do lock-ins at the church for the youth, Mike would play in the all-night Monopoly marathon game. He always used his false eye as his game piece – the kids thought it was wonderful that he could be so real and so accepting of his infirmities. It was just a part of the humble and gentle spirit that made him a good pastor and a great Christian man.

Mike’s last two weeks on this earth taught me a lot about death and dying – how to do it, how to minister in the midst of it, and what a godly end to a life could look like. He spoke very clear and honest things into people’s lives, and he did so with a real heart of love and a desire for whomever he was speaking to know that, as well as he knew them and as much as he loved them, the Lord knew them so much better and loved them so much more.

As we read through and study these last dozen or so chapters of Matthew, we need to do so with this in mind – Jesus knew the end was coming, knew that it was near, knew what that end was going to require, and was deeply interested in completing His work for the Father and preparing His disciples to carry on after He was gone.

There were important things for them to learn and to know if this little band of inconsequential men was going to shatter the darkness of the world with the marvelous light of the Gospel.

Let’s read the text again, only this time, let’s do so with what we just talked about in mind.

Jesus very clearly tells His disciples that He is going to be crucified, and then (after Peter’s little run of interference) He goes on to repeat something to them that He has said before – only this time, it has a greater depth of meaning to them.

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