Summary: Matthew 11:25-30. The familiar invitation to come to Jesus is explored.
AN EXCLUSIVE INVITATION TO REST & DISCIPLESHIP
- Most everyone likes to receive an invitation to a special event. Perhaps the event is a graduation or wedding. Sometimes we send out invitations for birthday parties. Ladies send out invitations for baby showers. Invitations are used (usually in paper or card form) for a variety of different occasions. If you have a list of people you want to make sure will be at your event, or at least know that you wanted them there, you use invitations.
- We enjoy receiving invitations to such things because it lets us know that whoever is putting the event on was thinking about us and wants us to be there. On the other hand, if we know there is a special event going on and we do not receive an invitation we are often upset because we think just the opposite may be true. We were not being thought of but we were being overlooked. Our presence was not wanted. Depending upon the circumstances those things may or may not be true; but in all cases invitations have a way of announcing that something important is happening and you should seriously consider being there.
- There are many great invitations recorded in Scripture intended for mankind on behalf of God. In fact the very last verses of the Bible include an invitation. In Revelation 22:17 it says: The Spirit and the Bride [the church] say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
- This is an invitation to eternal life. Anyone who is thirsty can drink of the water of life freely. Which is to say, anyone who desires eternal life can have it if they come to the right source. It is a kind of wedding invitation itself; inviting people to be a part of the marriage supper of the Lamb. Which is, again, a picture of the fellowship and communion that believers will have with Jesus Christ for all of eternity. This has been a favorite invitation of believers throughout the centuries.
- As far as scriptural invitations go, however, the invitation found in Matthew 11 is probably my favorite. At the end of the 11th chapter of Matthew’s gospel Jesus himself is speaking. He is speaking about his relationship to God the Father and what that means for anyone who would follow him. He has just been questioned by followers of John the Baptist as to whether or not he is the true Messiah or Anointed Deliverer of Israel. And he has also just denounced several cities for not believing in him when he had done extraordinary works there.
- Those things will be important to keep in mind as we take a look at what Jesus says here. We are going to have to keep in mind the situation in which Jesus makes this famous invitation. Doing that, we then are going to look at the substance of this invitation. And I want you to ask yourself this question that we will hopefully answer by the time we’re finished, “What exactly is it that Jesus is inviting me to do?”
[READ MATTHEW 11:25-30]
- Let’s hone in on vv.28-30 for a moment as these verses are the actual text of the invitation. These are some of the most well known and beloved words of the Bible, and rightly so. They are also a preacher’s best friend because they are easily outlined. There are actually a few invitations here. Three to be exact. One in v.28 and two in v.29. The first is rather obvious: come to me.
COME TO ME: AN EXCHANGE OF BURDENS
- The invitation to come to Jesus is an invitation to an exchange of burdens. At its simplest level this is an invitation to faith. “Come” means come in faith. In John 6:35 Jesus says: I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. To come to Jesus and to believe in Jesus are one and the same.
- Now to whom is this invitation addressed? Any individual who is weary (or labors) and burdened (or heavy laden). “Weary” indicates working to the point where you have no energy left. In this spiritual context it means working to please God on your own until you have no energy left. “Burdened” implies external demands set upon you. So the first century listener to Jesus’ words hears this: “Is there anyone who has come to the point where they realize they can’t please God on their own and they are tired of trying? Is there anyone who is fed up with trying to live up to the demands of Jewish religious law placed on them by hypocritical leaders? Come to me and let’s make a deal.” Let’s look at what he offers.