There’s a phrase people use that always bugs me. It’s when a harsh confrontation needs to be had and it’s described as a “come to Jesus meeting.” It bugs me because Jesus actually said the words, “Come to me…” but it wasn’t for a verbal beatdown with fists of shame and guilt.
Jesus actually said this:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
~ Matthew 11:28 NIV
Jesus was certainly inviting sinners, but he was well aware that the sinners he was inviting were spiritually exhausted. Why? Because their religious leaders had been offering them load after load of guilt and shame along with more rules to keep to try to earn God’s mercy.
So Jesus – God-in-the-flesh – offered an invitation altogether different in nature, and it’s extremely powerful for several reasons.
First, Jesus is being inclusive, not exclusive. Instead of go to your room while I withhold my love for a while, Jesus knows the only real solution to our weariness is to come to him. To be welcomed by him. And that had to be powerful, in and of itself, amongst the common, everyday, ordinary people of Israel who weren’t “holy” enough to be in the religious leaders’ club.
Second, Jesus understood. He didn’t minimize the feelings of weariness or overlook them. He wasn’t above the vulnerable, the marginalized, the sinful, the rejected. Instead, Jesus gave people permission to own their weariness in his presence. That’s powerful in and of itself.
Third, Jesus gave a promise with real power behind it. This wasn’t an empty challenge to just put a smile on, find something positive to think about, and rise above your circumstances. This was a strong and powerful word. King Jesus, the Messiah, the Creator, the Architect of all of creation, God-become-man, is fully capable of actually handling all the weariness you can dump on him.
I’ve become tired. A few weeks ago, when we were first beginning to experience coronavirus quarantines and lockdowns, I was worried, and Jesus invited me to bring my worry to him because he could handle it.
Now, I’m tired. I’m tired of hearing of all the death, all the suffering. I’m tired of the barrage of headlines that have already begun to become quite politically divisive. I’m tired of canceling all the fun plans, the vacations, the rest of the school year, and wondering when we’ll be able to move about the country freely again. I’m tired of not seeing my church family face-to-face.
And King Jesus, who can certainly handle it all, offers me rest. He offers you rest, too. And he’s powerful enough to follow through for any of the billions of people on this planet who would cast their weariness upon him.
Are you tired yet? Have a “come to Jesus meeting” – the kind where you lay your burdens down and he wraps his grace around you.