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Sunday, August 7, 2016

An Invitation from Jesus

An Invitation from Jesus

“Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)   Jesus stood on a grassy hill near the Sea of Galilee, surrounded by the crowds and gave His invitation. He opened His arms wide and invited them all to come to Him.  To share His yoke and to learn from Him and to allow Him to give them rest.  His invitation was for all of the people back then and His invitation is also for all of us today!    

Jesus had just gotten through revealing something about Himself to these local people. He had spent three years among these people teaching and healing their diseases and performing miracles. And by now these people who lived around the Sea of Galilee were wondering if Jesus was the Messiah promised in Scripture.  And Jesus tells them outright who He is.  He says: “All things have been committed to Me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except through the Father, and no one knows the Father except through the Son, and those who the Son chooses to reveal Him.”  (Matthew 11:27) 

Jesus’ invitation is like no other invitation because Jesus is like no other.  As He says, He is the Son of God and all things have been committed to Him.  A Royal Invitation from the Son of God who is gentle and humble in heart and who is also our Savior has been issued to all the people on earth then and now. He has the power to do what He promises, because He is the Son of God and all authority has been given to Him.  Jesus is calling each one of us to come to Him and get to know Him too. He promises to take away the burden and guilt of sin and to give us rest in our souls. 

To accept Jesus’ invitation, a person must want to turn from their sin. (1 John 1:9) He or she must come to Jesus and submit to Him as Lord and Savior. Jesus first gave his Invitation two thousand years ago to the Jewish crowds following Him.  Thousands of them had come out of their towns and villages to listen to Him preach. To watch Him heal the lepers and open blind persons’ eyes so they could see.  Many of them had crowded around as He gave a lame person the power to walk and hundreds were amazed and astonished when He raised people from the dead.  Surely these people who had been there and seen His miracles up close would accept His Invitation. But it didn’t work out that way!

Even though many of the folks from the Galilee region did repent of their sins and accept Jesus’ Invitation, many more neglected His call even after they had been healed by Him!  Later Jesus had strong words for these people who were there to see Him heal and raise the dead but who still turned their backs on His call. 

 Here is what Jesus said: “Woe to you, Korazin! (Korazin was a town in Israel) Woe to you, Bethsaida! (Bethsaida was also an Israeli town) If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.  And you, Capernaum (another town by the Sea of Galilee) will you be lifted up to the skies?  No, you will go down to the depths.  If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.  But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”  (Matthew 11:21-24)

 Jesus was teaching that there will be a day of judgment in the future for the whole world as Scripture teaches.  Jesus stated that if the ancient cities of Tyre and Sidon had been blessed by  having Him with them healing and preaching like Korazin and Bethsaida had, they would have repented of their sins and followed Him.  Tyre and Sidon would not have fallen, but would have remained thriving cities. Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, all towns near the Sea of Galilee  had been given such an advantage by having Jesus right there with them healing and saving! And yet they still ignored His Invitation!

One day when Jesus was ministering around Galilee, several of John the Baptist’s helpers showed up looking for Him.   John the Baptist had sent them to ask Jesus a question.   John the Baptist had gone before Jesus announcing Jesus with these words: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) John the Baptist knew so well who Jesus was but now he was locked away in a dark prison and he had time to question his faith in Jesus.  His question to Jesus was: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”  (Matthew 11:3) 

Jesus sent these words back to John through his disciples: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed is the person who does not fall away on account of Me.”  (Matthew 11:4-6) 

John perhaps had expected Jesus to keep him from going to prison.  And he may have thought that the promised Messiah would ride in on a white horse with a flaming sword and mighty armies and take care of all of Israel’s problems with the Romans.  Many Israelites expected their “Messiah” to come and save them from the Romans who were ruling them at that time.  But Jesus did not live up to their worldly expectations, so many of them did not recognize Him.   Jesus came to save them from so much more and give them eternal life. It seems even John the Baptist, who had great faith in Jesus faltered and doubted Him because Jesus did not do what he had expected.  And Jesus said to John the Baptist’s helpers: “Blessed is the person who does not fall away on account of Me.”  (Matthew 11:6) 

  Sometimes Jesus may not work in our lives the way we expect either.  He does not always remove our problems in the manner or time frame that we think He will. We have to trust Him to work the way He works even when we don’t understand all the reasons.  But like Jesus said, we are blessed when we im Hianddo not fall away on account of Him.  When we trust Him no matter what.

Jesus has given His Invitation to the world!  A call to come to Him and learn of Him and take on His yoke. And a promise to give our souls rest.  Some folks reject or ignore His invitation like many of the folks who lived in the Galilee region and were there when He taught and healed.  Others like John the Baptist have doubts and ask questions but still believe in Him and follow Him.  And then there are many who accept His Invitation whole heartedly and trust Him and are blessed forever after with peace and joy and light and love and salvation and more. Jesus Christ still stands there with His arms outstretched calling out to each one of us, “Come to Me”.  How will you answer Him?


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