Last week we looked at the final verses of Matthew chapter 11. I want to return today to this text and make some additional comments. The Lord Jesus said: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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)
We asked three questions about this text last week. First, “To whom is the invitation made?” And we saw that the invitation is to everyone, anyone. God so loved ‘the world’ that He gave. And St Peter reminds us, the Father is not willing that any should perish, but all come to salvation (2 Peter 3:9). And as the Holy Spirit said to Israel long before Jesus offered this invitation: ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ezekiel 33:11) – as He said it to ancient Israel, He speaks the same invitation to you and me today: Turn back from your wicked ways. Repent –and live.
The second question we looked at last week was, “How do we come?” The answer to which is pretty straightforward: We need to really WANT to come. Half-baked measures simply will never suffice because life routinely throws us under the proverbial bus from time to time, and unless we have a genuine desire rooted in our hearts to really, really want to come AND to really want to stay, when life hits us hard, we will likely walk away.
The Lord Jesus spoke of that in His parable of the different soils. Mark chapter four is the example we looked at, but the parable appears also in Matthew and Luke. The SEED is the same – it’s the same word of God spread abroad – but where it lands, in what kind of heart that receives the word determines whether the seed bears fruit or not.
We also looked at the necessity of confession of sins to God – the so-called venial sins (little sins) and big sins (mortal sins). Confession must then lead to honest repentance, a turning away from those sins and an honest determination to not commit those sins again.
And, finally, last week, in answering the question ‘How to come?” we saw that baptism was a critical element in coming to Jesus. With the only exception of the dying thief on the cross next to Jesus, every instance in the New Testament when a person responded affirmatively to the invitation to ‘come’ – in every instance the person was publicly baptized.
Which now brings us to the third question related to Christ’s invitation to come to Him. ‘Why’ should we come?
Let me suggest only a few reasons.
First, when the Lord said what many at that time – and many even today – when He said what they considered quite bizarre things, many of His followers left Him. So, what did He say?
Here is John 6:53ff “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” Then John tells us: As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
As the Lord watched them walk away from His invitation, He turned to His Twelve and said: “You do not want to go away also, do you?” To which Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
Where shall you and I go? When life knocks even the faithful Christian to the dirt, the one who has given his or her life to Christ, forsaking even family and friends – but when life knocks us to the dirt and kicks us while we are down – where shall we go? Back to our old ways, our old life?
Listen! Even non-Christians get knocked to the ground and kicked in the gut by life. But to whom can they turn for relief, for comfort, for balm for their grief?
Family? Friends? There are some tragedies and griefs that even family and friends cannot soothe. No, they have no one to whom they can turn. But the child of God? We have the Lord of all creation who has told us that yes, in this life, bones will break. Hearts will break. Lives will break. But almighty God has given us His VOW that all things will be made right in the end. ALL things.
Why should we come? Because He alone is the great Comforter. The healing Balm of Gilead. The one who stays closer than a beloved lover.
Why the trials and hurts? Listen to the Holy Spirit speaking through St Peter who promised you and me that trials and heartbreaks sometimes come into our lives: “So that the genuineness of [our] faith, which is much more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)
Why should we come? Why should we STAY? Because we really have no place better to go. He alone has the words of eternal life. He alone IS eternal life.
Why else should we come? Because He loves us more dearly, more devotedly, more sacrificially than even a mother loves her child at her breast. How cold a heart it is to be able to turn our back on such love. Listen to 1 John 4:10 à “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [i.e the sacrificial atonement] for our sins.
John also tells us that we who are in Christ are children of God. Listen to
1 John 3:1 (AMP) “See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!”
What does it mean to be a child of God? Well, for one thing, we have DIRECT access to our heavenly Father’s throne room.
You may remember earlier sermons and Bible studies during which I spoke about the curtain that separated even Israel’s priests from approaching the Holy of Holies in both the wilderness Tabernacle and later the Temple. It was in that room – the Holy of Holies – where sat the Ark of the Covenant, that gold-covered box covered by the Mercy Seat and served as a kind of Throne Room for God. Only the High Priest and only once a year on the Day of Atonement was permitted to enter behind that curtain, that ‘veil.”
When the Lord Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished” and He gave up His spirit, Matthew tells us that veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. It was in the tearing of that veil that God declared to humanity that the way into His very throne room was no longer reserved only for a certain class of people. The way into His Throne room was now open to all who came through the Door – Jesus His Son.
That’s why the Holy Spirit tells us in chapter 4 of Hebrews, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God . . . let us draw near with [boldness, with confidence] to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
This text in Hebrews reminds me further of the scene where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. You’ll find that in John 13. In Jewish households that could afford it, washing the dirty, dusty feet of visitors was one of the assigned tasks of the household servant – the household slave. And here we see Jesus – the Lord of creation, girding Himself with a towel, gathering a basin of water, and kneeling before each of His disciples – including Judas, by the way – and taking upon Himself the role of a servant to wash their feet.
And we wonder if Jesus is serious about His invitation to each of us in this room – in this building – to come boldly and confidently before His heavenly throne?
THAT is why He tore the veil that separated us from His Throne Room. God now gives anyone who wants it personal access to Himself through and only through the blood of Jesus. We no longer need a mediator to bring us to God. We no longer need a priest, even a high priest, to bring us to God. As St Paul tells us: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
That’s why we should come. Because he loves us. And He has opened His Throne room to all who have joined themselves with His Son by faith in His promise to forgive all the sins of the penitent. Faith in His promise to wash those sins totally and completely in the blood of Jesus. That they are now all erased. Obliterated. As if they were never committed. And will never again be remembered by God – not even at His Judgment Seat.
Christian, listen! God is not disappointed with us. He knows us. He knows what we are made of. And he loves us as much today as he did when we were conceived in the womb. His love has not altered or faltered one iota. He loves you and me just as much as He loves His Son, Jesus. (see John 17:23).
He is, as might be said, the Supreme Valentine lover.
Why should we come? Because when we refuse to come, we painfully, heartbreakingly grieve our Supreme Valentine lover. Listen to what God told His Chosen people, how He had “been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from [Him], and by their eyes which played the harlot after their idols. . . .” (Ezekiel 6:9).
As I bring this message to a close, I must also say this: We should come to Him because those who snub His love, those who reject His offer of rest and hope and eternal life, for them there is an eternal consequence. And it is not pleasant. And it lasts for EVER.
Have you ever realized that the Rich Man Jesus spoke of in that 16th chapter of Luke’s gospel – the Rich Man is STILL in agony, 2000 years after the Lord told the story. And tens of millions of years from today, he will STILL be in agony.
Satan has introduced into the Church an eternally burning lie that hell does not exist. And there are pastors and other clergy across America and around the world who assure their congregations that a God of love would never send anyone to an eternal torment. I’ve read some of their words.
But please hear this: Scripture tells us that such church leaders are children of Satan. Liars. Deceivers. Blind leading the blind into the pit. Read 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 and Acts 20:28-31 on your own and see why it is so necessary that we remain ALERT to subtle antibiblical lies and distortions of God's truth.
Jesus and the apostles spoke often enough about the eternal torments of hell that no one who loves Jesus and His word would ever dare to dilute or undermine the plain words of Scripture.
I’ve told this story before, and I will tell it again to make the point of that dreadful consequence of not coming to Jesus:
Many years ago, as our home Bible study wound to a close, a young mother ran out to her car for a package she’d forgotten. She left her two-year-old daughter with half a dozen adults and children in the living room. But when Berea saw Mommy leave, her face froze with panic. She raced as fast as her little legs could carry her and stretched in vain for the doorknob. Her screams were laden with terror, as if she believed Mommy would never to return.
One of the other women lifted Berea into her arms and tried to calm her. But it was no use. The child wanted no one but Mommy. And mommy was gone.
A few moments later, when her mother opened the door, she lifted Berea into her arms, rubbed her back and spoke softly to her. In moments, Berea quieted down. Mommy had returned. All was well.
Please think this through later today when you are quiet and alone: What must it be like for those who rejected Christ all their lives and then find themselves on the other side of eternity’s door – knowing with horrifying certainty – Father has left and is never coming back?
Never coming back.
Can anyone fully imagine the unending and inconsolable grief of those who know they will remain FOREVER on the other side of that door. THAT is what every man and woman on this planet who has rejected Christ has to look forward to: Total, absolute, and unending abandonment by God with no hope of change.
Jesus said it 2,000 years ago – and He says it still on this very day – “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.”
There are many reasons to come to Jesus. Wondrous reasons to come. Reasons saturated with love and hope and promise and comfort.
Why does anyone still stay away?