The Great Invitation

Bible Book: Matthew  11 : 28
Subject: Funeral; Death; Salvation; Invitation of Christ

We are here this evening to honor the memory of _______ ______ and to pay our respects to his family. From things different ones of you have said about him, you must have loved him very much, and I gather that he must have loved you in return.

I’m confident that many of you could stand here and tell of experiences you had with _______ that meant a great deal to you. You could probably tell of some humorous experiences, and some very serious ones. You could tell of special times you spent together, things he said to you that meant a lot to you, and things he did to help you when you were really in need.

And I trust that all of those various memories will be a blessing to you in the days ahead.

But we’re also here to try to bring help and encouragement to family and friends who remain and the very best place to turn for help and encouragement is the Word of God.

At a time like this, my mind and heart often go to Matthew 11:28, in which Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” God loves you, and he wants to minister to you and help you, and so he gives that great invitation, in which he invites us to bring all our burdens to him. Notice that in that great invitation, there are no exception clauses. There is no burden that can ever weigh on you that Jesus can’t handle.

I. He Invites Us To Come For Forgiveness Of Our Sins

The Bible says that “all have sinned,” and that “sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” The primary emphasis there is on spiritual death, which means separation from God. If a person continues in that lost, separated condition all the way to the end of his earthly sojourn, he will be forever separated from God. But even though “the wages of sin is death,” the Bible goes on to say that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus was and is God, and he came down to this sin-battered earth and shed his blood on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. But he is “the divine gentleman”--he will not force himself upon you. He has made you a free moral agent, and you must willingly meet his conditions to receive eternal life.

What do you get when you receive the gift of eternal life? God forgives your sins, gives you a new nature; in other words, a new set of “want to’s” and as you regularly read his Word, pray, worship, serve, and witness, he helps you to grow spiritually and to become increasingly victorious over temptation. Then, when your life on this earth is over, he takes you to heaven to live with him forever.

How does a person receive that gift of eternal life--in other words, how does a person get saved? Not by just being sincere. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” You don’t receive eternal life by good deeds. How, then, do you receive it? Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of  yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” The faith of which the Bible speaks is always accompanied by repentance--and faith, in the Biblical sense, means far more than merely an intellectual belief in Jesus. It means believing in him to the point that you surrender your life to him, lock, stock, and barrel--and when that happens, he changes your life. Jesus said, in Matthew 7:20, “be their fruits ye shall know them.”

When a loved one or friend goes so suddenly and unexpectedly, as _______ did, we are all reminded of the brevity and uncertainty of life. As David said to his friend Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20:3, “truly as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.” Thus, the wisest thing any of us can do is to surrender our lives to Christ and be ready.

If you’ve never made that life-changing surrender to Christ, with all my heart I encourage you to do so, and you can do it right now, right where you’re sitting. If you mean it from your heart, pray this prayer: “Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me on the cross. I’m sorry for my sins, and I repent. Here and  now I surrender my life to you. I’m asking you to come into my heart right now and be my Lord and Savior. Help me, from this point forward, to live for you and never to be ashamed of you.” Then pray, “Thank you, Jesus, for saving me.” Then get in church this Sunday, make a public profession of your faith, and get busy obeying and serving the living God. It will be the greatest decision you’ve ever made.

Or, if you’re already a Christian but have gotten off the track, this would be a good time to confess your waywardness, and get back in step with God’s plan for your life.

II. He Invites Us To Come For Relief In Our Struggles

Jesus invites us to come to him for help with those various struggles that people often experience during the course of a lifetime, such as the struggle with illness. He doesn’t always cure our illnesses - sometimes he does, but when he doesn’t, he pours into our lives such an abundance of grace and strength if we call upon him through Christ, that we can have victory in spite of whatever we have to face.

If we will come to him, he will give us relief in the midst of our struggles with such things as personal failure, broken relationships, financial disasters and list could go on. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

III. He Invites Us To Come For Comfort In Our Sorrows

He most certainly invites us to come to him with our burden of bereavement. The Bible tells us that “he is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” As he stood by the tomb of his good friend, Lazarus, the Bible says, “Jesus wept.” He weeps with you today. 2 Corinthians 1:3 speaks of our Lord as “the God of all comfort.” Psalm 147:3 says, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their  wounds.”

So, come to Jesus today. If you’ve never done so, trust him as your Lord and Savior. If you do already know him, claim his promises - such as Psalm 55:22: “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” That is, the Lord will never allow the person who is right with him to get beyond the range of his presence and his care.

In John 16:33 Jesus said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” and if your life is linked trustfully and obediently to him, you, too, can be an overcomer.