Parables of Jesus
It has been said that the totality of the gospels is one extended invitation from Jesus. From His powerful declaration as the Son of God proving such with signs, miracles, and wonders, to His teachings, to His daily interaction with people, the invitation goes forth – Come to Jesus.
You can hear it in His plaintive lament in Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” – Come to Jesus.
Many of the parables of Jesus have His call contained in them. An obvious one is found in Luke 14:16-24, the parable of the great banquet. There, the master of the house was planning a great feast. Invitations had been sent and many had given their RSVPs. When the time had come for the banquet, the would-be attendees gave excuses for not coming. Even after the master sent his servants to bring people from far and near, still there was room. Hear the Master’s call to come to the Bread of Life – Come to Jesus.
In Luke 15, there is a series of parables showing Jesus’s great desire to call all men to Himself. In each case, the subject (sheep/coin/son) had been in a safe place, but suddenly were discovered as lost. In each case, remarkable effort was expended to ensure its return to its original safe place. In the parable of the lost sheep, the sheep, either through inattention to where it was or not heeding the shepherd’s voice, had wandered away, away from the shepherd, without a guide or direction. The shepherd diligently searched the Galilean hills and ravines for the sheep. Perhaps he whistled and called its name as he searched, much like we might in searching for a lost puppy. At last, it is found! There was a joyous reunion and loving care as the shepherd returned it to the flock. Examine yourself and if you find yourself having wandered away, your zeal for God’s word waning, hear the Shepherd’s voice – Come to Jesus.
With the lost coin, the coin at one time was where it should have been. It became lost due to the inattention or neglect of the woman. Perhaps there was a hole in her coin purse she hadn’t noticed and it fell out; perhaps it had been on a table and was accidently knocked off and rolled away. Whatever the case, the woman neglected to keep it in a safe place. When she discovered it was lost, she searched and swept the entire house. You can almost hear her muttering under her breath, “Where is that coin? Where could it be?” At last, it is found! And she rejoiced with her friends and neighbors. If you notice a new convert or a new member (or an “old” member, for that matter) missing, having fallen through the cracks, don’t neglect them, seek them out; encourage them to – Come to Jesus.
With the lost son, it was a different situation; his was a conscious decision to leave. Seeking to be free and unrestrained and being enticed by the lights of the far away city, he rebelled against his father and left the place of comfort and safety. Soon, however, he was in desperate circumstances: his life wrecked, his fortune gone, as well as his self-respect, and even his human dignity sacrificed (he was living as one of the pigs!). I like what the Lord says next: the son came to himself, the NASB says, “he came to his senses” (pretty much sounds as if he had lost his senses when he left home). All the while, the father was on the lookout, daily scanning the horizon, looking for the child’s return. When he was finally spotted dragging himself home, there was great joy: At last, he’s returned! There was no anger, no scolding, no “I told you so,” just a joyous celebration and the son was fully restored to his former place of comfort and safety. God wants all to repent and come back to Him and be saved – Come to Jesus.
But probably the most well-known call from Jesus is found in Matthew 11:28-30. It is a beautiful invitation, one that has been placed to music, the melody of which has a calming, comforting effect; “Come to me, all 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” (ESV) – Come to Jesus.