When Jesus says, “Come,” He does not stand on the top rung of a long, high ladder in heaven to signal us to start climbing. For He Himself has climbed down the ladder to stand at our very elbows. He has come to us.
“For us men and for our salvation (He) came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, and became man” (Nicene Creed). “She brought forth her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.” He came, born in a stable. He came and died on the cross. He came to prepare the banquet of salvation for us. And now — today — He sends His servants to extend us His invitation: “Come, for all is now ready.”
Far from being accepted, this gracious invitation was rejected. “I have bought a field. … I have bought five yoke of oxen. … I have married a wife … I cannot come. Have me excused…” This was the response. Is it not the same response today? Our great tragedy is that we end up accepting the wrong invitations in life. We miss the banquet, the abundant life of Christ, and settle for the lesser, and the fleeting. And Jesus still laments, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not” (Matthew 23:37).
“Come, for all is now ready.” “But,” you object, “I am not worthy to come. My clothes are not suitable. I wouldn’t know how to act in the Master’s palace.” None of this makes any difference. The invitation goes out to all: to those who are on the back streets, to those who live in little, dirty places, as well as to those who live in fine houses. Come! The good news is that you don’t have to be perfect to come. Come as you are — with all of your sins and sorrows, weaknesses and failures, problems and anxieties. Come to the only One who can forgive you and heal you. Come to the only One who can make you worthy.
“Come, for all is now ready.” The ten lepers came; they were healed. The blind came; they received their sight. The lame came; they were made whole. Sinners came; they were forgiven; the dead, and they were brought to life. “Him who comes to me I will in no way cast out,” said Jesus.
“Come, for all is now ready.” Coming to Jesus is a way of life. It begins with baptism. It involves daily commitment, repentance, obedience, worship, prayer, Bible reading, and regular Communion. It involves a daily walk with Jesus. It involves not only “Come!” but also “Go!” “Go out into the world and be my disciples. Be servants. Be lights. Be salt.”
None of us will ever know the wonder of the brightly lighted banquet hall, the goodness of the food, and the joy of being a part of this amazing fellowship unless we lay aside the excuses and dare to accept the invitation.
Come to Him now and be assured that on the last day He will direct to you the greatest “Come” of all: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Lord, I’m coming. No excuses. No alibis. I know I’m not worthy. I come from the streets and the lanes, from the highways and the hedges. Without You, I have lived as if I were blind and lame. I come hungry and thirsty. I come to be fed. Amen.
Fr Anthony Coniaris