Summary: Some call this the greatest invitation ever made. Like every invitation is contains three parts: the invited, the inviter, and the invitation itself. Let’s break our text down and consider it from three directions.
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: Robert Kirkpatrick had some good news and some bad news. The good news: he had been extended a written invitation to a dinner with President Bush in Washington, DC. The invite and letter were signed by Vice President Cheney himself. It is not every day you receive an invitation like that. On the other hand, it was a fund-raising dinner and cost would be $2500 a plate. You might think that was the bad news. Not in this case.
The bad news: When Kirkpatrick received the invite in 2001, he was just beginning a three year stint at the Belmont Correctional Institution eastern Ohio. He was serving time for drug possession and attempt escape. In the day of computer generated mailing lists, such mistakes happen all the time.
Kirkpatrick was philosophical about the invitation. He told reporters, "I’m going to tell him that I’d be happy to attend, but he’s going to have to pull some strings to get me there." John Bacon (from staff and wire reports), "Guess Who’s Not Coming to a Bush Dinner," USA Today (6-5-02) p. 3A)
You, like Kirkpatrick, might consider the invitation in our text too good to be true. Or hopefully, too good to refuse. Whatever you think of these words, they get your attention. I can’t imagine anyone reading or hearing these words of Jesus for the first time and not stopping in their tracks. I’ll bet most everyone who came across these words in your daily readings this week (Tuesday) paused and reread those last few lines. These words speak to the yearnings of every heart.
Some call this the greatest invitation ever made. Like every invitation is contains three parts: the invited, the inviter, and the invitation itself. Let’s break our text down and consider it from three directions.
The Invited. First, consider those to whom the invitation is extended. Invitations tell who’s welcome and who’s not. Kirkpatrick knew his invitation was a mistake. This one isn’t. You could try to crash a party and come without an invitation. That’s unnecessary in this case. The invitation is for everyone of you in this room. Note a person is left out. How do I know that?
How Jesus describes the invited. “you who are weary and carry heavy burdens”
1. Weary: “kopiao, “to labor, toil, expend great effort in hard and disagreeable work,” “to grow weary, tired; labor to the point of exhaustion.”
a. Tired (little girl what be when grow up); Get up and go; got up and went
b. Work—hard working people; where is the leisure sociologist predicted in the 70’s
c. Financial struggles—making ends meet; keeping up with expectations
i. Differences of generations—boomers hope; busters not
d. People problems—the real stuff of weariness
e. Church work—appreciate hard workers; but know get tired
f. Spiritual struggles—tired of struggle
g. Life—straw that breaks the camels back; over time; there comes that day when teaching means just one more lecture; job in sales, just one more airport or long road trip; motherhood, just one more sibling squabble or sink full of dirty dishes. The daily routine gets old; burnout is prominent social problems of our age.
2. Carry heavy burdens: “Heavy-laden” is phortizo, “to place a burden upon; to load as when placing a load upon the back of an ox.” Then, it came to means “oppress by legal burdens.” That’s the context here…. But others too
a. Guilt—past mistakes
b. Wrongs received—Bitterness/unforgivenness
c. Disappointment—expectations yours and others
B. How Jesus words the invitation. “All”—everyone in this room
1. Some claim God only desires an exclusive few to come; Bible says—“Whosoever will may come”
2. Only excluded are those who “will not” come
Note vss 25-26-- 25Then Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. 26Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!
The invitation to all. Everyone in this room is included. What ever your baggage or your burdens, no matter how many times you’ve felt that people or maybe even churches didn’t have time for you, I am here to tell you Jesus offers you an invitation, “Come to me.” This brings us to the second part of the text, actually the most important part—the one who extends the invitation.
II. The Inviter. Unless we appreciate who is making this offer and his ability to make good on his offer, we are not likely to give a second’s notice to an invitation. This is an invitation from the very best kind of host. Note how Jesus describes himself. “I am humble and gentle.”
A. Don’t read this as weak; that would be terrible mistake. This entire section of Matthew is the case for Jesus power and authority.