The Great Invitation
W. Frank Walton
Camden, South Carolina
What is the greatest invitation ever given? Hear the profound words of Jesus: "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 shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My load is light" (Matt. 11:28-30, NASB).
1. The Great Invitation Is Given To All, Without Distinction Or Exception. This invitation is universal and timeless in scope, available to anyone at anytime. To be "somebody" in Hollywood or a "bigwig" in politics, you must be at all the right parties and functions to be with all the right people. When Prince Charles and Lady Di recently visited Washington, D.C. and a social gala was given in their honor, the hot topic was, "Who will be invited?" The "have's" get an invitation; and the "have not's" don't. Haven't we all felt the sting of being left out when others were invited and we weren't? On the school yard, who wouldn't have felt a little insignificant if picked last when choosing up sides for a ball game?
Jesus calls everyone who will respond, regardless of your name, your past, your accomplishments, where you live, how much money you have in the bank, where you work, what you look like, your education or the color of your skin. No one is insignificant! Everyone is important, whether great or small. To God, you are just as important as anyone who has ever lived. Jesus plays no favorites (Acts 10:34).
2. The Great Invitation Centers Upon Christ. The combined philosophies of the greatest, most brilliant and powerful men who ever lived cannot answer life's greatest questions, "Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What is the purpose of life?" Only Jesus can say with authority, "Come to Me" and "learn of Me." He alone boldly proclaims to be the one and only answer in life's quest for meaning (Jn. 14:6). He is unique - the Jesus of history, the Christ of salvation and the Lord of life. He will be the standard and Judge of human conduct on that final Day (Acts 17:31; 2 Cor. 5: 10). Apart Iroin Him, there is no solution to the problem of sin.
In coming to Jesus, it's much more than just intellectual agreement to a series of religious facts, but it ultimately focuses upon complete loyalty to His person (Jn. 14:15; 15:14). He is the center of this living relationship. Sin is a personal betrayal of our allegiance to Him. So, we must trust and obey Him in view of all that He is: Immanuel ("God with us"), the Lamb of God, the Prince of life, the Lord of glory, the Bread of Life, the Light of the world, the First and the Last, the Resurrection and the Life, and the King of kings and Lord of lords. What an exclusive and exhaustive relationship this is!
3. The Great Invitation Solves Man 's Greatest Problem. Jesus summons the "weary,' 1 those fatigued by exhausting struggles and toils. "Heavy-laden" conveys the idea of those overloaded with crushing burdens too heavy to bear alone. Such refers to the bitter fruit of sin.
Sin is man's greatest problem. It's the only thing God hates. It's the only thing that can forever condemn one to hell. It's the only thing that caused Jesus to be crucified.
It basically maw "to miss the mark," which conveys falling short of God's glory (the potential good for which God created man). It's an addicting, cruel enslavement to Satan. We're held in "the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will" (2 Tim. 2:26). Satan (Gr. satanas. "an adversary") seeks only our harm. He works to blind men to their true spiritual condition or to be inflated with pride over their "learning" or self-importance.
For example, Jacque Monod, a Nobel prize winning molecular biologist and an evolutionist, echoes the "enlightened" elimination of man's eternal dimension. What's man's origin? He says, "Our number came up in a Monte Carlo game." What does this mean? "Man must at last . . . wake to his total solitude, his fundamental isolation. Now does he at least realize that, like a gypsy, he lives on the boundary of an alien world. A world that's deaf to his music, just as indifferent to his hopes as it is to his suffering or his crimes" (quoted in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, 1:359). Such a world-view that man is an accident of blind chance which arose from the slime and not the sublime, taken to its logical end, leads only to despair. There's no standard to determine the ultimate meaning of life. Bertrand Russell, agnostic philosopher, said, "We stand on the shore of an ocean, crying to the night and the emptiness; sometimes a voice answers out of the darkness. But it is a voice of one drowning; and in a moment the silence returns."
Some turn to the fleeting fun of sin. But since we're built for another world, worldly pursuits can't satisfy the spiritual needs of man. It's like trying to run a diesel car on gasoline. Sin's deceitfulness is seen in its emptiness and self-defeating futility, being devoid of enduring satisfaction. Ernest Hemingway killed himself at the height of his literary powers. He said, "I'm as empty as a radio tube with no current and the batteries dead." Ralph Barton, a cartoonist, wrote, "I have difficulties, many friends, great successes; I have gone from wife to wife, and from house to house, visited great countries of the world, but I'm fed up with inventing devices to fill up 24 hours of the day." This was from his suicide note. Is life worth living?
Only Jesus can make life worth living by His offer: "I will give you rest." In Him, we discover the gift of refreshing rest from worry, uncertainty, and despair. He frees us from the tyranny of sin. He gives peace of mind, enduring joy and a satisfying purpose.
4. The Great Invitation Gives Man Direction. Jesus says, "Take My yoke upon you." A literal yoke was a wooden frame placed upon animals' necks to help evenly distribute the weight of pulling a heavy load or plowing. In Jesus' day, the rabbis commonly used it symbolically illustrating assumption of the Law's total obligations. Jesus uses it as a metaphor for the challenging discipline of learning to be a disciple. Yoking with Jesus is to learn of Hirn,
We Put Christ on at baptism (Gal. 3:27). We "learn" (Gr. Mathete) to be a "disciplo" (Or. mathaw) a we look to Jesus as the model of what we can become (2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 4:19; Lk. 6:40). This life is the classroom for eternity. His yoke joins us to Him in an obedient relationship of personal devotion (Acts 11:23). Do I ask myself, "What would Jesus do in this situation?" Learning is a permanent change of behavior. Do I really have "the mind of Christ" or am I only outwardly conforming to a religious maze of man-made traditions or handed-down procedures while being devoid. of true, inner spiritual change?
Seeing His glory in the Gospels, I see how He dealt with the weak, the slow, the hurting, the nfisguided, and the false teachers. I learn the practical side of compassion, courage, kindness, understanding, and a forgiving heart. I see him face and overcome temptation. I gain bold confidence as I meditate upon His powerful example, trusting the Father in face of great obstacles and discouragement. "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked" (1 Jn. 2:6). Am I His co-laborer?
Gentle and Humble
We enjoy this daily walk with Him because He's "gentle and humble in heart." "Gentle" or "meek" (KJV) means "power under control." His yoke doesn't chafe, nor is it an oppressive burden. He's not unduly harsh, but understanding and patient with all men. Being "lowly" or "humble in heart," He's not abrasive, intolerant or unforgiving. Although He has high standards, He won't give up easily on us. He always cares (Heb. 2:18). His humility shows us how to be a servant that God will exalt. He served others and the Father above selfish considerations in meticulous obedience (Mk. 10:45; Jn. 8:29).
A New Way of Life
By learning of Him, He promises, "You shall find rest for your souls." His rest isn't inactivity or exemption from difficulties. It's rest from struggling to "get ahead in life," anxiety over the future, frustration in circumstances, and the miserable futility of sin's gnawing cravings. His rest eliminates bitterness, hate, grudges to "get even," envy, ego battles, irritability, and stress. His rest is peace, joy, hope and love manifested in a radiant Christ-like lifestyle. Nietzche, the atheist philosopher, critiqued "Christianity": "They would have to sing better songs to me that I might believe,in their redeemer: his disciples would have to look more redeemed!" Are we glad we're Christians? Let's inform our face about it! The world is watching.
His yoke is "easy" (good, comfortable, pleasant, kindly). It fits well. It was custom-made by our Creator for man's good. Corporations pay millions for insight from expert consultants. Yet God's infinite wisdom for the better life is free. God's purpose for men is in the yoke of Christ. Trusting obedience is delightful, since this is how we're designed to work best. It yields the greatest quality of life known to man (Jn. 10:9-10). His load isn't a harsh burden but "light." We gain the needed strength in following Him as we're "renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16). "His commandments are not burdensome" (1 Jn. 5:3). We grow in the power to change ourselves and the world when we take up the yoke of Christ. He can make us all we're capable of becoming.
Jesus is offering us a challenging invitation. Will you accept it?
Guardian of Truth XXX: 20, pp. 611-612, 631