(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
This picture reminds me of what happened to my dear friend Dick. A man in his fifties, he had gotten himself into a bad situation involving theft and an extramarital affair. Dick’s wife came to me, her pastor, with concerns for her husband. I, and a deacon of our church, paid a visit to Dick. A gentle man, he graciously received us, and we sat and talked. We mentioned nothing of the theft or his affair, just that we were concerned that he was going through some hard times, and we were there for him. He thanked us for coming, and we left.
The next week, Dick came to our evening service, and continued to come each Sunday evening for about six weeks. After one particular service, as I was talking to someone near the front of the sanctuary, I noticed several people gathered around Dick in the church vestibule. He later told me what happened that night.
As I was leaving to go home, I just broke down before I got to the door, and cried. Several people gathered around me to offer comfort. My head was down, and as I cried, I noticed one person who seems to stand out. I later asked those who had gathered around me, “Who was the person standing next to me, who had his hand on me? He was wearing sandals and a white robe?” The folks looked confused. “There was no one there who was wearing sandals and a white robe!” But I insis- ted, “Yes there was! He had his hand on my shoulder and was offering me wonderful comfort!”
I firmly believe Jesus showed up (visible to Dick alone) to comfort this penitent man! By the way, Dick became one of the most dedicated and faithful members of our church, and a dear friend of mine!
But back to our series, “Come To Me…” based on Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle, and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
We have gone over five reasons why people don’t respond to the Savior’s invitation:
- Some think they have no (or few) burdens, that everything is going pretty well at this point in their lives.
- Some feel like they can carry their burdens and solve their own problems themselves.
- Some are laboring and heavy laden, but don’t know what to do with their burdens.
- Some have never heard this invitation.
- Some have heard it, maybe multiple times, but they don’t believe it is true.
Let’s consider the sixth reason:
- Some don’t feel worthy enough to come to Jesus!
✞ Here are some of the excuses I have heard: ➔ “I’m just not good enough to come to God. He won’t accept me.” ➔ “You don’t know what I’ve done. How could the Lord ever forgive me?” ➔ “I have never felt accepted by others. Why would God want me?” ➔ “I don’t even love myself. How could God love me?” ✞ But none of these excuses are valid, because...
- No one is ‘good enough’ to come to God!
✞ Paul wrote this in Romans 3:10 and 23: “There is none righteous, no, not one....for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” ✡ Solomon concluded the same in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “...there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” ✡ But the most defining statement (or perhaps I should say ‘damning statement’) is found in Isaiah 64:6: But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our ini- quities, like the wind, have taken us away. Our righteousnesses are the very best we can do...on our own! And what are they like before God, who is absolutely holy? They are like filthy rags! In a sense, ‘filthy rags’ is a euphemism. What God is say- ing in Isaiah 64:6 is our righteousnesses are like a used menstrual rag! ➔ A woman experiencing her monthly period was considered unclean for at least se- ven days (see Leviticus 15:19). And she had to wait seven more days after her menstrual flow ceased before she could bring an offering for cleansing on the eighth day. Only then would she be con- sidered clean! (see Leviticus 15:28-30). ➔ Anything upon which menstrual blood was found was considered unclean and untouch- able! So the very best we can do on our own is considered foul and unclean before our holy God! That does not leave us in a good position! Left to ourselves, we are damned!
We are all sinners, and sin wrecks havoc in our lives! Even when we want to do what is right and good, too often we end up doing the opposite – which is the same confession Saint Paul makes in Romans 7:14, 15, 17 through 20, and 24 (Good News Bible):
...I am a mortal, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do; for I don't do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate....So I am not really the one who does this thing; rather it is the sin that lives in me. I know that good does not live in me---that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it. I don't do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do. If I do what I don't want to do, this means that I am no longer the one who does it; instead, it is the sin that lives in me....What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death?
“Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death?” Who? Jesus Christ, that’s who!
- For He lived the perfect life before God that we could never live!
✞ Even His enemies could find no sin in Him! For Jesus challenged them in John 8:46, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” ➔ Now, if I had issued that challenge, people could say, “Well, I remember when you....” and they could probably name a bunch of times that I have sinned! ➔ But those opposed to Jesus and His ministry could find no sin they could truly lay upon Him! ✞ I Peter 2:22 (International Standard Version – quoting Isaiah 53:9) – Christ “...never sinned, and He never told a lie.”
- Then He laid down that perfect life as a sacrifice for us, dying on the cross to pay for our sins!
✞ Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” ✞ I Peter 2:24 (Good News Bible) – “Christ Himself carried our sins in His body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by His wounds that you have been healed.”
- Having taken our sins upon Himself and paying for them completely, He now offers us His own perfect righteousness!
✡ Isaiah 61:10 – “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness....” ✞ II Corinthians 5:21 – “For He [the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteous- ness of God in Him.”
So if you are trusting anything else other than the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to us (as Paul writes in Romans 10:9, 10, and 13)…
...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth con- fession is made to salvation....For whoever calls upon the name of the LORD will be saved.
Trust Jesus Christ as your Savior!
I apologize for the delay in publishing this Gem. Sometimes the demands of life and family take precedence over my time at the computer. I will try to adhere more to my schedule of publishing Gems twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.