It’s not a party, it’s a promise!
Three simple words, “You are invited!”
An invitation. I love them. Most people love when they receive a card in the mail announcing a wedding, a graduation, a surprise birthday. Someone has something GOOD to celebrate, and you have been invited to be there. Shine up your shoes because there is going to be a party!
I love parties, but I have noticed a problem. The party, regardless of how fun or festive, always comes to an end. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus gives an invitation. He is not inviting us to a party; He is inviting us to something more than that. It’s bigger and better. It’s an invitation to a promise that will never come to an end! Here it is. Listen carefully. Jesus is inviting you, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
In a time of constant mental frustration, physical exhaustion and soul weariness, this is a promise that can, and should, soothe and strengthen our hearts, souls and minds. We have ALL been there! Sometimes we can point to a reason for it. Maybe it’s a past struggle, a busy schedule, a sickness, stress, pain, worry, depression… all are like a weight pressing on us, crushing us. But often times, we cannot point to a reason for the problem. It’s just there… endless, senseless… a pain pressing upon us where there seems to be no solution and no way to escape.
We want to hide. To cope, we pull the shades down and the blankets up. Many people will try to escape by sleeping, eating, binge-watching their favorite TV show, playing video games, reading, praying, crying… or all of the above. Others try to forget, ignore or escape the problem by drinking, smoking, snorting or shooting something that makes them feel good and forget about the problem or pain for a while. Others will indulge in a fantasy world of porn or have sex with someone, anyone, just to feel like they are loved, even if it’s for a moment.
But like a party ends, all these things only mask pain and problems for a moment… then the pain and problems surface again — and often it’s worse than before. What do we do? How do we get help? How do we STOP this spinning cycle?
Thankfully, Jesus knew we would all feel like this. That is why these words are known as one of the most loving, gentle, kind and concerned appeals Jesus ever makes. When He says, “Come to me,” He is also saying, “Do not go anywhere else because there is nothing that will satisfy your soul like I can, like I will!”
Does this sound too simple? Too easy? Different than the typical “Eight Simple Steps to Stress Free Living” or the “Four-fold Path to Peace-Giving Enlightenment”?
Be assured this instruction is totally unique because it’s bigger than any religion, it’s beyond any diet and exercise, it’s better than any “secret-to-success.” This invitation is extended to ALL people from ANY country or continent, any situation or circumstance, young or old, rich or poor. Jesus is simply saying, “Come to Me.” Even though many say, “I’m not worthy or I’m a mess,” Jesus is not inviting “all who are worthy,” He is inviting ALL who “labor and are heavy laden.”
No doubt this speaks of physical and mental exhaustion that comes with work. Jesus promises to refresh, revive and rejuvenate our weariness in body and weariness in soul.
We know there are many things that can weigh us down and make us feel over-burdened. But this invitation is also intended to speak to the burden of sin, both the guilt and power of it. When one is honest, we admit nothing bogs us down more than the weight of our own sin. The psalmist David described the weight and agony he felt from unrepentant sin like this, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Psalm 32:3
Finally, Jesus promises to “…give you rest.” Oh, how we want…how we NEED true rest. When Jesus invites us to come there is no need to be worried and burdened, because He has completely taken care of the biggest problem we could ever face in all of life. Rather than dragging around burdens of work and worry, we need to give attention to our biggest problem. Jesus is drawing our attention off the mundane to… matters that matter. Matters of our heart, soul, sin, forgiveness, eternity, heaven and hell.
Unlike the so-called wisdom this world offers, we are NOT just in need of a soothing solution from the pain of this world… we are in need of a Savior. Thankfully, God — who certainly understood the concept of work and rest and modeled it for us in Genesis — did not stop at creation. He kept working for our redemption. God sent His Son to do the work we could not do. Living a perfect life. Dying on the cross. Paying for our sin. Rising from the tomb.
Know the work of salvation is complete. Jesus will offer you rest, real rest, that will last forever when you accept His invitation. That’s a promise!
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Tim Boger, senior pastor of Big Woods Bible Church in Lock Haven.