Summary: We like to be invited to things. It makes us feel good to be on the guest list. It tells you the person cares and wants you to be a part of what they're doing. Jesus gave an invitation in Matt. 11:28-30. Let's take a look at this invitation and see what we can learn.
COME TO ME
We like to be invited to things. Depending on the event, we might get a fancy, overpriced invitation in the mail, requesting our presence at such-and-such. It makes us feel good to be on the guest list. Sometimes we don't want to go to the thing we're invited to but we're glad the person thought of us. I remember talking with someone who was upset they weren't invited to something. I asked, "would you have gone". "No", came the reply. "Then why are you upset?" "I still would've liked to have been invited."
It's important to be asked; it tells you that the person cares about you and wants you to be a part of what they're doing. It's nice to be included. Jesus was invited to various events. His first recorded miracle was at a wedding he had been invited to. Sometimes Jesus was invited somewhere for the purpose of trying to trap him in some way. Then there were times when Jesus gave the invitation. That what our focus will be on today. Let's take a look at his invitation in Matt. 11:28-30.
1) Invitation to rest.
Matt. 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
Jesus gives an invitation to those who are weary and burdened and tells them he will give them rest. That would get my attention. Really, who doesn't feel weary and burdened at one time or another? The Jews would've identified their burden as living under Roman rule and not being free; along with all the other burdens and weariness they were dealing with in their lives.
We can be weary and burdened in various ways: physical, mental, emotional and of course, spiritual. That's the one Jesus is focusing on here since he later specifies-rest for your souls. To have rest for our souls is to have freedom for our souls. So when Jesus said, come to me, he's inviting them to come to him for salvation and to follow him.
Our souls are not at rest before we come to Christ. The Jews had the burden of trying to adhere to the Mosaic law, along with hundreds of extras the religious leaders added to the law. Yet the religious leaders were no help to the people. That's why Jesus said of them in
Matt. 23:4, "They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to help them."
The Jews were weary and burdened and Jesus invited them to be released from the spiritual burden of trying to work their way into God's favor; which was an impossible endeavor. That's why they needed Jesus.
We are under the law of slavery to sin. We are weary and burdened from carrying the weight of our sin. In the book, Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan, the protagonist, Christian, is on a journey to the cross. He's carrying a heavy load on his back which represents sin. When he gets to the cross his burden is released.
"Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which CHRISTIAN was to go was fenced on either side with a wall; and that wall was called "Salvation". Up this way, therefore, did burdened CHRISTIAN run; but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back. He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre.
So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. Then was CHRISTIAN glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, "He hath given me rest by his sorrow, And life by his death."
I've read reports of Marines having to carry 100 pounds of gear on their daily maneuvers. That's a lot of weight. Imagine how good it feels when you're able to let that weight fall off your shoulders. Now think of the relief you have from being able to be released from carrying the weight of your sin!
After the soldiers were able to release their gear, they probably felt like a new person. When we choose to come to Jesus to be released from our sin, we are a new person. But until that happens there will be no rest for our souls. We won't understand how badly our souls are in turmoil until we come to him and start living for him. Then we begin to see the contrast; we see what we had been missing out on.