Occasionally you may hear someone flippantly say, “We had a come to Jesus meeting at work today!” What is implied is a confrontation in which a supervisor admonished a subordinate to correct a problem, or change a behavior. The phrase has become a secular cliche, borrowed from the church.
Behind the expression is the ritual of the altar call. It comes out of the revivalist tradition in America, in which preachers would issue fervent invitations to their listeners to come forward at the end of the sermon and make a public commitment to believe in Jesus as savior. Hence, the expression, “Come to Jesus.”
That’s not a bad idea. In fact, that is exactly what Jesus himself invites us all to do, whether we are in a church service or not. His words in Matthew 11:28 are called the “comfortable words” in that they offer comfort and rest for the soul. They are often read in liturgical worship services after the confession of sin. These words convey the timeless promise of forgiveness and acceptance.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The Scope of the Invitation
The Lord’s invitation is for all kinds of people to come to him. The scope of the invitation is immeasurable. His words imply that Jesus welcomes all those who are burdened with the weight of guilt, with the shame of sin. That is all of us. Sin is the reason life is frustrating and unsatisfying. Sin is the reason we lack peace of heart. So Jesus is speaking to all of us sinners who know we have fallen short. All have sinned. All are invited to come.
The Promise in the Invitation
Here is a magnificent promise for those who are weary in their minds and hearts. It is the promise of rest. I had the joy of praying with an inmate in the Oklahoma County Detention Center not long ago. He asked God to forgive him for his sins and in simple faith he opened his heart to Jesus. After we prayed together he smiled and said, “I feel like a ten thousand pound weight has been lifted from my shoulders.”
That kind of spiritual rest of mind and conscience is for those who come to Jesus. If you are weighed down by regret, shame, grief, guilt, you may be released from the burden of a guilty conscience if you come to Jesus. You cannot change the past, but Jesus can forgive you and restore your soul if you come to him. “The blood of Jesus, his Son purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
The One who Offers the Invitation
“Come to me,” Jesus said. We are not invited to come to a preacher, or to a therapist, or to a philosopher, or to a church, or to the waters of baptism, or to the bread and wine of communion. These all have their place, but they all agree that first we must come, in faith, to Jesus, and only to Jesus. He alone is the Savior, the Son of God, the Mediator, the Redeemer, the coming King. He is “the way, and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
He says “I will give you rest.” He always keeps his promises, He promised to die for sinners and he did. He promised to rise from the grave and he did. His promise is a promise of free grace. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
He does not say, “do,” or “join,” or “pay,” or “work,” to save yourself. Instead, he says simply, “Come to me.” Only God’s Son could make a promise like that and have the power to fulfill it. He promises the gift of eternal life. He died on the cross of Calvary to purchase this life for those who come to him. His gift is undeserved and freely offered.
What Will You Do?
I invite you to come to him now. Do not wait until Sunday. Come now. The spiritual rest he offers is for you today, not only after you die. Come to him. Pray to him. Confess to him, Lean on him. Trust in him. His yoke, he says, is easy. That means you can let him do the heavy lifting. He is ready and willing to receive you. He is not too busy, preoccupied, or distracted to listen to your prayer.
If you come to him in life, he will be with you in death. What will you do? To refuse his gracious offer is to reject him and devalue his word. To neglect his promise is to rebel against his invitation. The consequences of rebellion against God are dreadful and eternal. Surely you do not want to do that. So please come to Jesus and enter into his rest.
Pastor Randy Faulkner