"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."                Matthew 11:28


What beautiful words! What a wonderful invitation!


"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?"                                Matthew 23:29-33


What hard...very, very hard words...from the same mouth!


"Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?"

                                                                         John 14:1-2


Gorgeous!....What words of hope!


"You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar."                                                   Matthew 23:33-35


How can these words, words of peace...words of wrath, be coming out of the same mouth?


It's called judgment and grace.


We are living in an age in which the word grace is almost meaningless, because it's an age which has rejected the whole idea of judgment. Evangelical Christians talk much about grace but it's a shallow grace, an empty grace.


Evangelical Christians accepting the atmosphere of Babylon around them have no sense of divine judgment. And where there is no sense of divine judgment...no respect for it, no fear of it, there can be no grace.


It's an age, when three young men in this city about a week ago could walk away laughing and joking as they left another young man, whom they had just shot, to die on the sidewalk in a pool of blood. They are a symptom, a reflection of this age in which we live.


The general idea today is that if you can avoid the police and the IRS who else is there to answer to? You're not going to be struck by lightning.


In the garden there were two trees...the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were welcome to eat of the tree of life. It was grace....God's life, God's unmerited favor. They could eat all they wished.


But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they were forbidden to eat. And this was the tree that Satan promised would make them gods in their own right. So they ate and they fell under judgment.


What is judgment? Judgment is the light of God finding you out and causing you to reap the consequences of your sin. Adam ran for the bushes, but the light came to him.


"Adam, what have you done?"


And there was no way Adam could hide from that light, or avoid the consequences of his sin.


Back to the three young men who walked away laughing as they left a young man they just shot to die. They are under a judgment far worse than our opinion of what they did....far worse than Detroit's Recorders Court or Jackson Prison. The blood of the innocent cries out to God against them and won't stop crying until they are exposed and somebody pays for the shedding of innocent blood.


We're all aware in our bones, even if we deny it intellectually, that somewhere down the road the light will come on and there will be an accounting.


In the meantime, when so many thousands of the multitude had gathered together that they trod upon one another, he began to say to his disciples first,


"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."

                                                                        Luke 12:1-3


That truth was programmed into our hearts, and no amount of brainwashing or therapy can remove it. We know, we all know, that there will be an accounting.


What we don't understand quite so clearly is that that light which will one day expose every secret and uncover every fraud, is already shining in this world, shining in this place. And that light is not out to "get" us. It's out to save us. It exposes our hearts right now....not to damn us to hell, but to bring us, now, into heaven. That light comes to us now as grace.


When that light comes to us now, it shows us two things:


— It shows us what a mess we've made of ourselves by eating of  the tree of the knowledge of

     good and evil.....


— It also shows us the tree of life and says, "Eat." The tree of  life is none other than the Lamb

    who was slain to take on  himself the consequences of our sin. If we eat of this tree we  

    receive grace....we live.


Put in simplest terms:


— Grace means that the light comes in and exposes our evil and Jesus pays.


— Judgment means that the light comes in and  exposes our evil and we pay.


It is the same light of glory in either case....the same God bringing every hidden thing out into the open, revealing the secrets of our hearts.


 If I respond to this light by confessing my sin, by repenting of my sin, by throwing myself utterly on God's mercy, the tree of life comes to my rescue ... Jesus pays and I am healed and redeemed ... I receive grace.


 If I respond to this light by hardening my heart, then I am under judgment and I will pay for my own sin. And, no lawyer, no advocate, no judge, no jury in the universe will be able to spare me from reaping what I have sown.


Of course, if I respond to the light by confessing my sin and repenting, and Jesus comes and pays for my sin, then I am no longer my own, I've been bought with a price. My life is not mine, but his.


This modern American version of grace...where Jesus pays but I retain all rights to myself and continue to live to myself and for myself...is not grace at all but a sham.


The God who is causing his light to shine among us now,


 — who is uncovering our sin,


 — who is sifting our lives,


 — who is burning them with holy fire,


so that we will come to Calvary and have our sins washed away in the blood of the Lamb, is offering true grace, deep grace, today, by calling us to a life of absolute surrender to the Lamb.


"Get under the yoke with me,"


that's what the yoke means: commitment.


To receive grace means that I leave myself and enter into Jesus all the way.


"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."                                                                          Matthew 11:28-30


To have this rest, this wonderful Sabbath Jesus offers us, we have to come to him. To come to him we have to forsake everything else.


For instance, the light came on for Peter that Galilean morning when he saw his net breaking with a miracle catch.


"Depart from me for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord!"


The light exposed Peter, frightened Peter.


 "Don't be afraid Peter. From now on you will  be catching men."


 ......pure grace from Jesus. But notice how Peter received that grace.


When they brought the boats to land, they left everything and followed Jesus.


It was never again, "business as usual." You want to live in grace? Abandon your life to it.


The light came on for Isaiah in the temple that day when he saw the Lord high and lifted up. And Isaiah cried out in fear,


"Woe is me, for I am undone! I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips!"


Then came grace.....it touched him,

          healed him,

          forgave him. 


That grace remained with Isaiah because he abandoned himself to it from that day on.


"Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" says the Lord.


"Here am I, send me," answered Isaiah.


From that day on Isaiah's life was no longer his, it belonged to God.


Each time we partake of the Communion we kneel to feast on the tree of life....Jesus. It's a feast of grace, "This is my body....this is my blood...." The light exposes our sin, Jesus pays for our sin.


But this grace will


 — remain with us,

             — rule in us,

                         — live in us,

                                    — preserve us,


only if we do what Peter did....what Isaiah did....forsake everything and turn our lives over to him. Are we ready to say,


"Here am I, send me!"


Are we willing as we eat of this tree of life to forsake everything and truly follow him .... all the way .... whereever he leads, at whatever the cost?



This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to

you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we

say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness,

we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk

in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one

another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 

                                                                         I John 1:5-7


......God is light and in him is no darkness at all. The certainty is that that light is finding us out and will find us out.


There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, neither hidden that will not be made known.


Whether that light finds us out as grace or judgment is up to us. Today it comes to us as grace. This grace will,


 — enter us,

            — save us,

                        — heal us,


if we will give ourselves to it....surrender to it...... follow it all the way.


"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."