Please remain standing as you're able, in honor of the reading of God's Word. I've got three different verses from the New Testament.
First of all, from Matthew 11: 28- 30. Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens. (Does that describe any of us?) And I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I'm gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
And then in John's Gospel 1:35. The next day, John again was standing with two of his disciples and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard him say this and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “what are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying and they remain with him. That day it was about four o'clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his brother, Simon, and said to him we have found the Messiah. He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said You're Simon, son of John, you're about to be called Cephas, which is translated Peter.
And then from the book of Revelation 3:20. Listen, I am standing at the door knocking. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come to you and eat with you and you will be healed and eat with you and you with me.
This is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God. Please be seated.
As always Lord, I pray that you would deliver me from me, hide me behind the shadow of the cross, so that people see Jesus instead of me. And now, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, o Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
An invitation can make us feel good. Our children exclaim to us this morning the joy that they feel in having a birthday party and they look forward to what they're going to get as presents. God gives us many invitations in the Bible. I have just chosen three. And when we respond and say yes to his invitation, he always has a present to give us.
First of all, before I even try to interpret any of the scriptures, the invitation in our liturgy for Holy Communion has an invitation that says, "Christ, our Lord, invites to his table all.” I think every time that I read anything that says all in it, I'm going to stop and remind us that all means all. In fact, in the South we could say y'all means all. Invites all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.
In Matthew, the first passage that I read, Jesus says come to me. All you who are weary and heavy laden. Now don't raise your hand. But how many of us, either right now or we have in the recent past, felt burdened down with stress and pressure and your hearts were heavy. Then Jesus says you're who he's talking to. The invitation here is not given to the well. The invitation is not given to the person who thinks that they have it made.
In fact, on the walk to Emmaus there is a prayer that I have always loved. In that prayer the words are, “Lord, we pray for the person who needs you the most and we also pray for the person who thinks they need you the least.” I think it's better for us to really believe that we need God, that we need the power of Jesus. And Jesus says if you come to me with your burdens, I will lighten them because I will help carry them and you will find rest for your souls. We all have a need for rest.
Now, next Sunday is the Super Bowl. They say that it's - It’s going to surpass any ratings for past Super Bowls. There will be people who will tune into the Super Bowl who don't even know what teams are playing, but they're turning in because they want to see how if Taylor Swift made it from Tokyo the following day to the game. They want to see Taylor Swift and for them that's the most important thing about the game.
But if we think about the game, someone has said when there is a game being played, each team has 11 players desperately in need of rest and 80,000 people in the stands desperately in need of exercise. Rest! Rest for our weary souls.
And then we look at John, chapter one. Jesus had come to John to be baptized and he's standing with two of his disciples and he sees Jesus walking toward them and he says look, “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” John's two disciples leave John the Baptist and they start following Jesus and after a while he looks back at them and he says what are you looking for? He says -er they answered with another question where are you staying? And Jesus says to them come and see.
Now I talk to people all the time who will say to me: “Pastor Jimmy, I would love to witness,” “I would love to tell other people about Jesus, but you flip through that Bible and you know from front to back-“ no, I don't. “But I mean, you know, I don't know anything about the Bible.” “I don't know what verse to use with someone.”
And I say you don't need to know anything about this Bible. There are three words that you can use. If you don't know how to talk to someone about church or the Lord just say "come and see!” Come to my church, come to our church and see what God is doing.
Isn't that an invitation? That's easy to give without having to have knowledge of the Scripture? Now, it would be wonderful if you did, and that's why some of you need to come more often.
You know, I've discovered that for some of you, once a month, I mean, I do such a good job that you feel like that once a month is all you need, but we all need to grow in our faith as we hear and study the Word of God.
The thing I love about this story is Andrew. Andrew gets very little attention in Scripture, but his brother, Peter, he's the one who gets all the attention. He's the one that preached at Pentecost, but he was Andrew's brother and he went immediately and said to his brother we have found the Messiah, come and see. And Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus.
There was a Sunday school teacher who brought Billy Graham to Jesus. We never hear her name, we never hear anything about her, but what if she had not shared Christ with Billy Graham? We would have never known anything, perhaps, about Billy Graham.
And so you may feel you're insignificant, but you never know, when you invite someone to come and see that you may be inviting the next Simon Peter, who is going to do great things for the Lord. The other time Andrew is mentioned is when the crowd over 5,000 people, not counting the women and children were gathered together to listen to Jesus and they were without food. And there was no Chick-fil-A or McDonald's nearby.
But Andrew found a little boy with his picnic lunch and he brought that little boy to Jesus. Andrew was always finding people and bringing them to Jesus because he knew if they ever met Jesus he didn't have to do anything else. Wouldn't you like to be known as someone who is always bringing people to Jesus?
And then there's that third invitation, Revelation 3:20. Right there in the third chapter of Revelation. The first three chapters of Revelation are easy to understand because they were written to seven churches in Asia Minor. This one we get to the fourth chapter and beyond that Revelation gets a little difficult to understand.
But before John the revelator gets into the difficult part, he issues an invitation from Jesus. Jesus says look, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him. Now this is where, even though I don't use the King James version that often, this is where I love the translation of the King James. The King James Bible says Jesus says if you open the door, I will come in and I will sup with you.
Now I know we've gotten sophisticated and we're trying to forget some of our raising, but at least when I grew up in South Georgia we didn't have breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had breakfast, dinner and supper, and supper was always a good meal. Sometimes we actually ate breakfast for supper, Any of you ever eaten breakfast for supper? But it was more relaxed and it was just a wonderful time of eating and sharing around the table.
Jesus says that's the kind of relationship that I offer each of you. And so we have here Jesus standing at the door of your heart and life and he's knocking and you have three choices that you can make.
Have you ever pulled back the blinds just a little bit and you saw it with some salesperson or a Jehovah's Witness, and you just ignored the knock and pretended that you weren't home? I can tell by the looks on your faces that many of you have done this. Maybe you go to the door and you heard the doorbell or the knock and you go and you say get away from here, I don't want anything to do with you. Now, most of us wouldn't do that. Or we can go to the door and we can invite that person to come in.
Jesus is saying I'm knocking at the door of your heart and life. I'm not gonna force my way in, I'm not gonna break down the door, but he continues to knock and for some of us we've been hearing that knock Maybe it's gotten a little not as loud as it used to be and we keep ignoring it. Very few of us would just say, God, you go your way and I'll go mine. But he continues to knock until you open the door. Invite him to come in and suck with you, to have supper with you, to sit at the table with you, to have a personal relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ. I don't know any better invitation and I don't know any better offer that Jesus said if you open that door and let me come in, you're gonna have I mean, we're gonna it's gonna be supper time. It's gonna be supper time all the time. Because we're gonna enjoy the friendship and the relationship and the saving power every day, every night, for the rest of our lives.
In closing, the story is told of a wealthy socialite living in a small town. She was known for her parties. You would just die to get an invitation to one of her parties. I mean the fine china, the crystal, everything I mean and the food just plenty of it, all you want. And so people always enjoyed her parties.
One day she planned a party and no one came. She was so depressed that she locked her doors and became a hermit. When she died, her family they were going through the contents of her home and they opened the nightstand beside her bed and they found a stack of envelopes addressed and stamped with an invitation inside. You see, she had done everything to get ready for the party, except she had forgotten to send the invitation. No one came to their party because they didn't get her invitation.
I wonder how many of us have forgotten to send the invitation to people who need Jesus? The Scripture tells us that every time a sinner repents there's a party. The angels have a party in heaven Better than any birthday party. You could ever imagine. How many parties could there be in heaven because you remember to give the invitation? Amen.