Come to Me!
Dear Lord Jesus, we confess that all too often we fail to come to You, our Source of every blessing. We worry; we are burdened by many cares; we are fearful and frustrated as we face the challenges of life. Lord, forgive our failures and move us to come to You in faith. Give us the rest which only You can give, and being refreshed, lead us to godly service in Your Kingdom as we await Your final coming. Amen.
The heathen prophet, Balaam, was not allowed by God to curse the Old Testament Children of Israel. Instead, he foretold the coming of a "Star…out of Jacob." That "Star" was Jesus. He has conquered His enemies and now rules in our hearts bringing blessings into our lives!
As believers in Christ, we have peace with God. That means our eternal futures are secure. We can endure with patience the tribulations of this life, knowing that we possess the love of God as poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Text: Matthew 11:25-30
At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and the prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
In Christ Jesus, Who provides rest for our souls, dear fellow redeemed:
One of the most exciting accomplishments in a child’s life, both for the child and for his or her parents, is learning to walk. It is so exciting when a child finally lets go of the couch or the coffee table and takes those first steps all alone. Parents will sit on their knees with arms outstretched and say, "Come to daddy!" or "Come to mommy!" The warmth and the confidence those word inspire within the child will move that little girl or that little boy to walk without assistance into the waiting arms of mom or dad. It isn’t long, however, after children learn to walk and so become a bit more independent that parents teach them not to talk to strangers. We live in a sin-filled world where some adults prey on little children, and so we instruct our children to run away from strangers who invite them to "come to me," or "come with me!"
Isn’t it strange how Jesus’ words, “Come to Me,” produce such different reactions. When they are addressed to us, his children, they inspire so much confidence and trust, yet at the same time they are ignored and rejected by others? Jesus’ words move believers to come into the arms of a loving Savior, but for unbelievers Jesus is viewed as some ill-intentioned stranger. While it may seem strange us to, it ought not be unexpected. Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Unfortunately, while the gospel is a message expressing God’s universal love for all people, it is a message, which does not find universal acceptance. Let us explore the reasons why that is the case as we consider Jesus’ invitation, "COME TO ME!" We note, first of all, that Jesus’ invitation is rejected by the "wise" of this world; and we note, secondly, that Jesus’ invitation brings "rest" to all who accept it!
Jesus spoke the words of our text during the second year of His three-year earthly ministry. By that time Jesus had attracted quite a large following, but at the same time opposition by the religious leaders of the Jews had grown strong. They questioned Jesus’ credentials—He was, in their opinion, an untrained and uneducated upstart from Galilee. They scorned His followers calling Him “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). They were infuriated by His failure to keep all of their laws, especially all of the regulations they imposed regarding the observation of the Sabbath. They envied His following, for they feared that it would undermine their influence over and control of the people’s religious lives. They were somewhat awed by His demonstrations of power—His many miracles, but neither His miracles nor His words were enough to lead them to humble repentance and acceptance of His claims that He was sent by God! They trusted their own wisdom and were determined to pursue their own paths. Their traditions and their opinions were to be honored and accepted, not the teachings of this Jesus fellow! So the lines were drawn, and the religious leaders of Jesus’ day became entrenched in their own unbelief, refusing to listen and refusing to believe. Ultimately God, Who loved each of them also and had sent His own Son to save them also, gave them what they wanted—eyes and ears and hearts which could not see or hear or believe. Jesus said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and the prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.”
The Scripture provide us with ample testimony to the fact that the natural mind of man cannot comprehend the things of God. St. Paul writes, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is the case for when Adam and Eve fell into sin, they lost the perfect image of God in which they had been created. This natural depravity has been passed on to all human beings, whom Scripture describes as being “sinful from the time (their) mother(s) conceived (them)” (Psalm 51:5 NIV). Natural man can only come to understand the true nature of God and God’s grace, if the Spirit of God grants spiritual rebirth through the creation of faith. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6).
Man, however, has the terrible ability to reject the work of the Spirit through the gospel proclamation. Consequently, even the preaching of Jesus was not always received and believed by everyone who heard it. Oh, what judgment awaits those who reject the precious invitation of our Savior, for He alone has “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
In our text Jesus goes on to say, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Jesus here, as in other places, points out with absolute clarity that genuine spiritual truth can only be found in one place—in Him and in His Word! Jesus was not and is not a "universalist"—claiming that every religion ultimately is true and that it doesn’t matter what one believes. The world religions of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism together with the modern sects of the New Age will not lead to spiritual enlightenment or eternal salvation, for they are based upon the wisdom of this world, which is the product of man’s depraved mind. No, God delivered to Jesus the message that salvation is not to be earned by the deeds of man, for it is a gift from God to man to be received with joy and to be expressed then with confidence in lives lived to God’s glory. Anyone who claims otherwise does not know the true God nor can he claim Him as his heavenly Father. Anyone who claims otherwise does not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. "COME TO ME!" Jesus’ invitation is rejected by the "wise" of this world! May we never be found among their numbers. May we rather both hear and heed Him, for…
Jesus’ invitation brings "rest" to all who accept it! Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Notice, first of all, Jesus’ invitation is universal. He addresses it to “all” and it is certainly His desire as revealed by St. Paul that “all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Jesus speaks to those “who labor and are heavy laden.” Who are such people? In Jesus’ day, as in our own, they certainly include all of those people who have been led to believe that their salvation is dependent upon their own efforts. In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees expanded Moses’ Ten Commandments into 613 commandments, and they had well over 1,000 added restrictions relating to the Sabbath Day. Obedience, they claimed, to all of these commands would certainly please God and lead to eternal salvation. In our day, whether we are talking about Islam’s "Five Pillars," or Buddhism’s "Eight-fold Path," or Hinduism endless quest for "karma," these religions all place the burden of salvation upon their followers. We need not consider only the non-Christian religions of our world, however. Whenever individuals or groups within external Christendom place conditions on the open invitation and gracious gift of salvation, they are causing hearts to look to themselves and their own labors, rather than to the completed work of Jesus Christ. Such actions can only lead to doubt, to uncertainty, and to fear.
Jesus reaches out to all and promises, “I will give you rest!” What kind of “rest” is Jesus talking about? He, of course, defines it Himself as “rest for your souls.” Jesus invites us to come to His open arms. He will receive us sinners. He lived and died for us sinners. His blood washes our sins and our guilt away. We can stand before Him in faith holy and accepted as dear brothers and children of our heavenly father. This is the “yoke” of which Jesus is speaking—His love, His forgiveness, His acceptance, His promises for our future. That is why He describes it as “easy” and “light.”
There are some who want to make our salvation conditional—claiming our future salvation depends upon our present life—our keeping what is claimed to be the “yoke” of the law. This is not true. Our salvation depends upon the unconditional grace of God, which expressed itself in the universal redemption wrought by Jesus Christ! But some may ask, "What about people who then fail to live a godly life?" Our response to the sin of man must never be to make the salvation of God conditional. Rather, with Jesus we are to extend the blessed invitation, “Come to Me,” to those whose consciences truly “labor and are heavy laden.” To those who are impenitent, to those who are secure in their sin, to those who think lightly of God’s grace, we must preach God’s law—pointing out that God will judge those who reject Christ by word or action. God can see the innermost thoughts of our hearts. “Do not be deceived,” St. Paul tells us, “God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8).
My dear friends, let us not play fast and loose with our Savior, but rather may we be led as spiritual “babes” to both hear and accept by faith His gospel invitation! Our Savior is crying out to each of us, “COME TO ME!” Let us come and entrust our bodies and souls to Jesus. Then we will truly receive “rest for our souls!” Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting