The Most Precious Invitation


The Most Precious Invitation

May 23rd, 1990 @ 7:30 PM

Matthew 11:28

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Print Sermon
Downloadable Media
Share This Sermon
Play Audio

Show References:


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 11:28

5-23-90    7:30 p.m.


We welcome the uncounted multitudes of you who share this midweek hour with us on radio.  You are now a part of our precious First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Most Loved and Beautiful and Precious of All the Invitations in the Word of God.  I am referring to the closing verses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Matthew.

Our Lord closed this chapter with this invitation:

Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me—

that’s a rabbinical symbol:  “Enroll in my school, and sit at my feet.”

Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

[Matthew 11:28-30]

This is a beautiful invitation that arises out of the sorrows and burdens of life; and all of us experience them. There is no one of us in this earthly pilgrimage but that finds somewhere sometime a veil of tears through which we inevitably pass.

As you can see, I am dressed for a funeral service; one of the saddest that you could ever have attended, held today:  the wife of one of our precious deacons, his father a deacon, she a splendid teacher and leader in our church, and just suddenly died.  The doctor said she had a congenital aberration, weakness, in her heart.  No one ever knew it, and least of all did she.  And just in a flash, in a moment, it took away her life.

We live in this veil of tears.  It is full of sorrows and disappointments.  Poignantly do I remember the first funeral that I shared after coming to be pastor of this dear church.  I was unknown to the congregation; I was forty-three years younger than Dr. Truett.  Dr. Truett’s assistant, Robert Coleman, a layman, had been with the great pastor for forty years; and God spared him two more years, and he helped me so mightily and wonderfully as I began my ministry as undershepherd of the flock.  The first funeral that was conducted in the church after I came to be pastor was in a funeral home on Oak Lawn, long since taken away.  And it was for the mother of a young maiden girl.  She was by herself.  Her father had died, all of her family had died, and now her mother, the last living member of her circle of home, had also died.  And she sat over there to my left, where Bob Coleman and I were in the pulpit; she sat over there by herself.  I went over there and tried the best I could to be a help and a strength and a comfort.  The congregation called on Bob Coleman to hold those services when I first came.  As I said, the congregation did not know me; I had just come.  And Bob Coleman had been here, as I said, for forty years.  So when we first began, practically all of the memorial services were held by Mr. Coleman; and I helped him, I assisted him.  And thus it was that day in the first funeral service held of the members of the congregation after I came.

And when Bob Coleman sought to be used of God to bring a message in that service, and that one crying girl over there to my left; in his message he quoted James Whitcomb Riley: “There little girl; don’t cry.”  Do you remember it?

There! little girl; don’t cry!

They’ve broken your doll, I know;

And your tea-set, blue,

And your playhouse, too,

Are things of the long ago;

But childish troubles will soon pass by.

There! little girl; don’t cry.

There! little girl; don’t cry!

They’ve broken your slate, I know;

And the glad, wild ways

Of your schoolgirl days

Are things of the long ago;

But life and love will soon come by.

There! little girl; don’t cry!

There! little girl; don’t cry!

They’ve broken your heart I know;

And the rainbow gleams

Of your girlhood dreams

Are things of the long ago;

But heaven holds all for which you sigh.

There! little girl; don’t cry!

[“A Life-Lesson,” James Whitcomb Riley]

And that layman Bob Coleman, in his message, commented on that verse, “heaven holds all for which you sigh.  There! little girl; don’t cry!”  The preciousness of our Savior in any hour of sadness, or trouble, or heartache, or death is the most precious of all the things we could ever experience in this life.

I read of a little girl, a little child, who was very sick, invalid.  She was never well to be out.  And somehow beneath the window of her home there were children who were singing.  And a song that they sang was this:

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest;

Lay down, thou weary one, lay down thy head upon My breast.”

I came to Jesus as I was, weary, and worn, and sad;

I found in Him a resting place, and He hath made me glad.

[“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say,” Horatius Bonar]

And there was something about that song that just broke the heart of that little invalid child. And she turned to her nurse, and said, “Dear nurse, did you ever lay your head upon the breast of the Lord Jesus?  Do you know Him?”  And the nurse being a devout Christian, said, “Yes, my child, yes.”  And the little girl said, “Sweet nurse, would you take me to Jesus, that I might also find rest in Him?”

How many of us are like that?  Where is He, our Savior, that we might find Him?  He is there by your side, where you are.  He is closer than your hands and your feet.  It’s an amazing thing, reading in God’s Word of our Lord.  In the garden, there He was, just there [John 20:11-16].  On the road to Emmaus, there He was, just there walking by the side of those two disciples of the Savior [Luke 24:13-32].  In the upper room, there He was [Luke 24:36-43].  By the seashore, there He was [John 20:1-19].  On the mountaintop, there He was [Matthew 28:16-20; 1 Corinthians 15:6].  As the days passed, they did not need to see Him; they knew Him by His Spirit working with them.  There He was; and so through the unending years that followed after.  When Stephen was stoned, the first martyr, there He was [Acts 7:55-56, 59-60].

Did you ever look at that story carefully?  Everywhere in God’s Word that the Lord is described, always He is seated at the right hand of God; there’s no exception to that, but one:  when Stephen was martyred, he looked up into the heavens, and Jesus was standing—the only place in God’s Word where He is standing—He is standing to receive the soul and the spirit of His first martyr [Acts 7:55-56].  There He was.  Even when Saul of Tarsus in his bitterness, on the way to Damascus, to hale into prison those that called upon His name, there He was in splendor above the brightness of the sun; there He was [Acts 9:1-6].  On the isle of Patmos, alone and condemned, John looked up:  there He was [Revelation 1:9-20].  And the testimony of the saints of God through the centuries since:  there He is.

If you ever read the biography of George W. Truett, my great, famous predecessor in this pulpit—Mr. Arnold, J. C. Arnold, the chief of police in the city of Dallas, died because of a wound from a shotgun accidentally discharged by the great pastor.  When J. C. Arnold died, buried from this place, Dr. Truett felt he could never preach again, the sorrow was so crushing.  And upon a night, three times Jesus appeared to him; calling him again into the gospel ministry.  There He was.

And in your life, in any great sorrow or need, He will be closer to you than your breath.   There He is.

How do you form a friendship with our Lord?  Not by rule, ritual, not like reading a logarithm or learning a catechism; you come to know the Lord in the same way that you would fall in love or create a friendship.  Only thing would be, if I could add, three things attending.  Number one:  you come to our Savior humbly, with bowed head and bowed heart and bowed knee.  You don’t come proudly, sufficiently, self-assertedly.  When you come to Jesus, you come humbly, like a suppliant bowing in His presence.

I shall never forget an experience that I had in Denmark.  I had read about the great sculptor Thorvaldsen, one of the greatest of all time.  And I had read a story of the beautiful, incomparably beautiful statue of Jesus that Thorvaldsen had sculptured called The Pleading Christ.  And I had read a story where an artist critic from afar had made a journey to Copenhagen, in Denmark, to look at that beautiful statue.  And the story I read said that the critic stood over here on this side of the church, and then over here, then on that side, and then around; and as he went around looking at the statue, he was visibly disappointed.  He was critical of it.  And as he walked around in the sanctuary looking at that statue from different angles, and manifestly unhappy with what he saw, and disappointed in it, there was a child there who noticed him and the expression on his face, and said to him, “But sir, you must go near, and you must bow down, and you must look up into His face.”  The critic did that:  he came close, he bowed down, and looked up into the face of the pleading Christ, saying my text, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” [Matthew 11:28].  And he was rewarded with a heavenly visitation from God.

Sweet people, that’s the only time I ever bowed before a statue, before an image, before an idol.  I searched out that church.  I walked into the sanctuary.  I looked at that incomparable statue of the pleading Christ.  And I knelt at the altar, and looked up into His face.  That’s the way we come to Jesus:  humbly, with bowed heart, and bowed head, and bowed knee.

How do you come to our Savior, into His love and grace?  Always in obedience to some kind of a commandment.  There has to be a decision on our part.  Inevitably coming to our Lord there is an accompaniment of an obedience to His invitation and command.  For example, Paul will write, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” [Romans 10:9].  In obedience, openly, publicly confessing your faith in the Lord Jesus—that obedient approach to God ever characterizes those who come to the Lord and are healed, and are saved; there’s no exception.

I so well remember, as do you, reading in the Book of Kings, Naaman, told by that little servant girl in the home, that if he’d find his way to the prophet, it was Elisha, if he’d find his way to the prophet in Samaria, he’d be healed of his leprosy [2 Kings 5:1-4].  And when he came with his chariots, and his servants, and his wealth, and his affluence, and stood before the house of Elisha the prophet, Elisha never went even outside to greet him; but sent Gehazi his servant and said to him, “You go down into the Jordan and dip yourself seven times, and you will be healed” [2 Kings 5:9-10].  And Naaman was wroth,” the Bible says, insulted, “I thought at least he would come out and dramatically call upon the name of his God and strike his hand over the place of the leprosy” [2 Kings 5:11].  Then he cried aloud, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?  May I not wash in them, and be clean?” [2 Kings 5:12]. And the Bible says he turned and went away in a rage [2 kings 5:12].  And as he was driving his chariot furiously back to Damascus a leper, one of his servants put his hand upon his arm, and said, “My father, my master, if the Lord had bid thee, if the prophet had said to thee, Do some great and mighty thing, wouldst not you have done it?  How much rather then, when he says, Wash, and be clean?” [2 Kings 5:13].  And Naaman pulled the steeds of his chariot, turned around, and went down into the Jordan River, and dipped himself, baptized himself seven times.  And when he came up the seventh time, he was clean; he was healed, the leprosy was gone [2 Kings 5:14].

There’s no exception to that in human life.  When we come to the Lord it will always be in some kind of an obedience:  this is what God has asked me to do.

A third thing that accompanies my coming to Christ:  my text says He invites me, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me” [Matthew 11:29].  And you heard me avow a moment ago, that is a rabbinical way of saying, “Enroll in my school, and sit at my feet, and learn of me”; coming into the presence of our Lord, sitting at His feet, learning of Him.

In these years past there was a brilliant young man, his family attended our church, of course he came; grew up, graduated the university.  And when I sought to lead him to the Lord, he said to me, “Honestly, I don’t understand so much of it.  There are things in it that I cannot comprehend.”  And I answered to the young man, I said, ”Young man, I am exactly like you.  There are things about God that to me are incomprehensible.  There are things I can’t understand, and world without end are there revelations in the Bible that I cannot enter into.  But I can sit at the feet of Jesus and learn.  And someday, when I get to heaven, I can ask Him face to face; and He will make it plain, and we will understand by and by.  But in the meantime, I can learn, I can be taught, I can sit at the feet of my Lord.”  And I said to him, “Young fellow, I invite you to come and learn with me.  We’ll both sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus, and we’ll ask Him to explain the deep mysteries incomprehensible to us, the deep mysteries of life.  Will you come?”  And he took my hand, “I will” [Matthew 11:29].  I baptized him, and he became one of the finest disciples of Jesus you could ever know.

We’re all that way.  We enroll in His school.  He is our great Teacher.  And there are so many things we don’t understand; but He does.  And what He doesn’t explain to us now, He will make plain by and by.

Fred, I want us to sing us a song.  And while we sing it, a one somebody you giving his heart to the Lord Jesus, a couple you answering the call of God, a family you coming into the fellowship of our dear church, as the Lord shall lay and press the invitation upon your heart, make that decision now.  And in this moment when we sing, come, and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.


Dr. W.
A. Criswell



I.          Introduction

A.  A divine
presentation into our inner most heart

B.  We all experience
disappointment, sorrow

C.  My first funeral
here, for father of young girl

      1. “A Life-Lesson”,
James Whitcomb Riley

D.  Preciousness of our
Savior in any hour of heartache

      1. “I Heard the
Voice of Jesus Say”, Horatius Bonar


II.         Where is Jesus?

A.  By
our side, closer than our hands and feet(John
20:11-16, 21:1-14, Luke 24:13-32, 36-43, Acts 1:3-11, 7:56, 9:1-6, Revelation

Dr. Truett after accidental shooting of J. C. Arnold

B.  How shall I come?

      1.  Humbly

a. Thorvaldsen’s “The
Pleading Christ”

      2.  In obedience(Romans 10:9)

a. Naaman(2 Kings 5:1-4)

      3.  Commitment of
life, discipleship

a. “Enroll in My school”