Christs Gracious Reception of Sinners!
William Nicholson, 1862
"This man receives sinners!" Luke 15:2
The text contains one of the most glorious truths in the word of God! It is the most important truth that ever reached the human ear, or can be entertained by the heart of man!
Christ's association with publicans and sinners was displeasing to the Pharisees and scribes, who had a high opinion of themselves, and despised others. The text was uttered by them for the purpose of degrading Christ. But what they thought to be his shame — was his glory! The praises of the Church militant continually flow, and the praises of the Church triumphant will be eternally given, because, "This man receives sinners!"
I. The Person Who Receives Sinners.
Jesus is called sometimes the Son of man; Son of God; the only begotten Son of God; Christ Jesus. He is represented as a Savior, a Ransomer, a Deliverer. Now such representations imply
1. That he was Divine. No human being can save a soul. It requires Infinite power, purity, and love. All these were possessed by Christ. See John 1:1, etc.; Philippians 2:0; Hebrews 1:3, etc. His Divinity was proved by his birth, life, miracles, by his resurrection, etc.
2. He became man, that he might die as the Substitute for guilty man. And he did die. His sacrifice was vicarious. "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5; Daniel 9:24:Romans 5:8.
3. He has issued his invitations for sinners to come to him; therefore he is perfectly willing to receive them.
He is the good Samaritan, and will bind up the wounds of the sinner.
He is the great Physician of souls, and will heal all their diseases.
He is the compassionate Shepherd to receive the wandering sheep into his fold, etc. etc.
II. The People Whom He Receives."Sinners."
This is the character of all men. Said to be "lost," "ready to perish," and are represented to be "wicked," "ungodly," "guilty," "condemned," and "helpless".
Christ came to seek and to save such people as these. Their state was both wretched and desperate. Had they been recoverable by any other means — he would not have come to save them.
If sinners needed instruction only — then the prophets might have sufficed. But he came to do that which prophets could not do — to deliver from the wrath to come.
All are sinners. Who can say, "I have made my heart clean?" "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing?" The challenge is given to all, and there can be only one answer, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!" Romans 3:23. See Romans 3:10-19.
1. Convinced sinners. They feel themselves to be such — and view themselves as guilty and condemned.
2. Penitential sinners. Like the prodigal — the publican — and those who were pricked in their hearts, Acts 2:37.
3. Helpless sinners. Who feel they cannot extricate themselves from sin, guilt, condemnation, eternal death. "For while we were still helpless — Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6
4. Believing sinners. Who believe that in Christ alone their help is found — who rely upon him, and trust in him for salvation.
5. Earnest, persevering sinners.
6. The vilest sinners. "This man receives sinners and eats with them!" Luke 15:2
III. The Design of His Receiving Sinners.The design is gracious and magnificent — it is to save them in time, and through all time, and to glorify them in eternity.
1. To pardon and justify them. "Your sins are forgiven!" Acts 13:38, 39.
2. To give peace and rest; and to quiet the conscience. Romans 5:2; Matthew 11:28.
3. To adopt into his family, and to invest with all the privileges of his people. John 1:12.
4. To enlighten, instruct, and seal with his Spirit.
5. To save from . . .
the sting of death,
the power of the grave,
the grasp of Satan,
the vengeance of everlasting fire —
and to endow them with eternal life!
What a gracious and sublime reception!
IV. Finally, such a reception is certain, for it was the design of his incarnation and death.
His gracious conduct when on earth, is a further proof.
The gracious declarations and invitations of his word prove it. "For the Son of man," etc., Matthew 18:11. "There is joy," etc. "And the Spirit and the bride say come!" etc.
The numerous examples of his saving power prove it!