Summary: God’s invitations are open to everyone.
As I was working on this sermon one evening, researching the text and thinking about what this passage was saying to me and what I was to share with you about this particular passage at this particular point in time, I was watching one of my all-time favorite movies, Field of Dreams. In case you’ve never seen the movie, it’s about an Iowa corn farmer who hears a voice, plows up part of his crop to put in a baseball field that allows players from the 1919 White Sox team to come out of what is left of the corn and play on it, then travels to Boston to pick up Terence Mann (played by James Earl Jones), then to Minnesota, then back home.
So as I’m reflecting on invitations in this passage and in the Bible, the movie had reached the point where Shoeless Joe Jackson was leaving to go back to wherever it was the cornfield led the players. He stopped, turned, and said, “Hey, you want to come with us?” Ray Kinsella (the farmer played by Kevin Costner) asks, “You mean it?” Shoeless Joe says, “No, not you. Him”, and points to Terence Mann.
At this point Ray gets upset, asking, “Wait a second. Wait a second. Why him? I built this field, you wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for me. I want to know what’s out there. I want to see it.”
Shoeless Joe just looks at him and says, “But you’re not invited.” Which gets Ray even more upset. “Not invited? What do you mean, I’m not invited?” He can’t believe he’s not invited!
Have any of you ever been “NOT INVITED” to an event? Was there ever a time in grade school where a classmate had a birthday party and you were “NOT INVITED”? Or maybe in High School when someone you thought was your friend has a party and you’re “NOT INVITED”?
It’s probably happened to you. If you’re not part of the “in crowd”, you are left on the outside looking in. If you were on the outside, how did that make you feel? I can tell you from experience that it’s not a good feeling.
Invitations are often very restrictive. Wedding invitations are given to relatives and close friends; celebration dinner invitations are often restricted to top people in business or politics.
But the invitation Isaiah offers in chapter 55 is a universal, non-restrictive invitation. God, through Isaiah, issues an open invitation to "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!” Anyone can eat and drink this meal, free of charge. The only requirement is that they COME. In that first verse alone, God says, “Come” 3 times!
In one sense, a preacher of the gospel has an unchanged message; each sermon may have a different text, but ultimately the scriptures have but one message. And that message can be summarized in one word - it’s an invitation from God - it’s the word "Come".
Some of the "Comes" of God’s Word
Nu 10:29 Now Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, "We are setting out for the place about which the LORD said, `I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the LORD has promised good things to Israel."
Isa 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD.
Mt. 9:9 Jesus said to Matthew, “Follow me”.
There is also the wonderful invitation to come to Him for relief from our burdens and cares.
Mt. 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
First He invites us to come to see and know Him, then to come with Him to win others. Mark 1:17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
John 1:39 He said to them, “Come and see”. They came and saw where He was staying, and they remained with Him that day.
And note His promise to those who do accept His invitation: John 6:37 "…anyone who comes to me I will never drive away.”
And there were personal invitations as well. To Zacchaeus up in the tree He said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” To his friend Lazarus, dead and bound in a tomb, He cried, "Lazarus, come out!" and not even the grave could prevent the accepting of such a call.
There is even a personal invitation to us. In Rev. 3:20: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” Jesus is knocking. And being polite, he will not “come in” until we open the door and extend an invitation. He invites us to open the door and invite him in.