By Ray Luck
Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Athens
During the course of our lives we will receive several invitations to do a variety of things. Sometimes the invitation is very specific, other times it is open ended. When an invitation is given the one issuing the invitation usually, if not every time, will expect a response as to whether the invitee will or will not accept (RSVP).
During Jesus’ earthly walk He issued several invitations such as, “Come to Me” or “Abide with Me” or “Follow Me.” Many, over the years have responded positively to His invitations resulting in a changed life, a growing faith walk, and the promised eternal life with Him. However, there are many who refuse what Jesus offers as did those in John 6:66 — “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked with Him no more.”
It is indeed a grievous thing to reject the invitations of Jesus. In our text for today we find Jesus reporting the fate of those who had the opportunity to receive Him favorably, but refused. Jesus refers to six cities, five still existed in His day. Sodom had been destroyed because of its extreme wickedness (Genesis 18:19-19:29). The coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon had been besieged by King Nebuchadnezzar and later destroyed by Alexander the Great (see Ezekiel 26-28), but under Roman rule restored to thriving Mediterranean seaport cities at the time of Jesus. References to these two cities are found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts and each time we find the people eager to hear the message of Jesus.
The book of Jonah to me is a classic example of what happens to people who hear God’s message, receive it, and repent. Capernaum (the home base for Jesus) and Bethsaida were coastal cities at the north end of the Sea of Galilee and Chorazin was further north. His ministry often took Him to these cities where He taught and preformed acts of healing. Jesus was not mocked or ridiculed by the people in these three cities. They were simply indifferent to Him and Jesus chastised them for that.
They had a grand opportunity, yet they blew it through sheer indifference. He then thanked the Father that He had hid from those who considered themselves “wise and prudent” (the religious leaders) the treasures of heaven, but revealed them instead to “babes” who were receptive. Jesus also said that the Father had delivered to Him all things, and therefore no one can know the Father except through Jesus.
Then Jesus issues His invitation to the weary, “Come” and you will find rest! “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me … .” In other words “Abide with Me and I will teach you!” Finally He says, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The yoke and burden are light because Jesus is with us as we follow Him in service. Jesus despises indifference (see Revelation 3:14-22). It is indifference that is killing the church and turning people away today. May we accept Jesus’ invitation and come to Him by faith to learn and serve!