Sermon 665. Open House For All Comers
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 17, 1865, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"This Man receives sinners and eats with them." Luke 15:2.
IT is not very unusual that the Pharisees could not understand the Savior's mode of action-not only because self-righteousnessand bigotry had blinded their eyes and callousness of heart to the interest of others and had bound them up in the darknessof self-righteousness-but alsobecause the Savior's mode of acting was contrary to the general current of the dispensation to which the Pharisee had beenaccustomed. The dispensation of the old Covenant was that of distance. When God appeared to His servant Moses, it was, "Drawnot near here: put off your shoesfrom off your feet." And when He manifested Himself upon Mount Sinai to His own chosen and separated people, one of thefirst commands was, "You shall set bounds about the mount and if so much as a beast touches the mountain it shall be stonedor thrust through with a dart."
In the sacred worship of the tabernacle and the temple the thought of distance must always have been prominent to the devoutmind. The mass of the people did not even enter the outer court. Into the inner court none but the priests could ever dareto come. And into the innermost place, or the holyof holies, once a year one person only ever entered! A thick costly veil hung before the manifestation of Jehovah's Presenceand upon the Shekinah no mortal eye ever gazed, except that eye which, once a year, alone, dared to look upon its splendorthrough the mist of the smokingincense when the blood of atonement was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat.
The Lord seemed ever to be saying to the whole of His people, with but a few exceptions, "Come not near here." It was thedispensation of distance-as if the Lord in those early ages would teach man that sin was so utterly loathsome to Him thatHe must treat men as lepers put outside the camp.And when He came nearest to them, yet He made them feel the width of the separation between a holy God and the impure sinner.
But Jesus Christ came on quite another footing. The word, "Go," was now exchanged for, "Come," and distance was made to giveplace to nearness! Partitions were broken down, middle walls of separation became like tottering fences, and we, who sometimewere afar off, were made near by the blood ofJesus Christ. Therefore, Incarnate Deity has no wall of fire about it. Christ was surrounded with that Divinity which doeshedge about a king, but it was only as a hedge of thorns to Himself and not as a hedge of briars to keep off the approachof the mean of mankind.
"Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest"-that is the joyful proclamation of God as Heappears in human flesh! Not now does He teach the leper his leprosy by setting him at a distance, but by suffering the penaltyof man's defilement. Not now does He teachman that the disease is naturally incurable-He now shows him the heavenly cure by revealing the fact that God, without sullyingHis purity, can come into contact with impurity in order to its removal and without receiving contagion from the arch-leper.The devil can grapplewith Him in the human heart-He can lay hold upon His adversary that He may bind him hand and foot and cast him away frommen-no more to oppress our race!
Jesus ushered in the dispensation of nearness, which, as you all know is to be followed by one of greater nearness still,for, as God is very near to us spiritually, the day draws near-oh, hasten it, good Lord!-when the angels shall sing, "Thetabernacle of God is with men and He doesdwell among them!" We shall need no temple in which Deity can be enshrined, for the Lord God and the Lamb shall be the Templeof universal manhood and we shall see Him face to face and days of distance and of mourning shall be ended.
I do not wonder then that Pharisees, who had drunk very deep into the separating spirit of the Law, should have been perfectlyastounded that a Person claiming to be the Messiah and professing to be that Adonai who sits at the right hand of Jehovahtill His enemies are made Hisfootstool-should, as they thought-act so inconsistently with His own professions and allow constantly a mob of the drossand scum and raff of the population to be associated with Him! They therefore said, "This Man receives sinners," and worsestill, He breaks throughall rules of caste and all degrees of separateness and makes Himself so familiar that He actually eats with them!
Now, this fact, which so startled them, has become very familiar to those of us who have been received and have eaten withHim. But still, the sinner, trembling under a sense of sin, feels the spirit of the old Law like a black cloud hovering overhim and he can hardly venture to believe, much lessto understand in all its richness of mercy, that Jesus still receives sinners! He fosters the notion that Jesus will lookfor some good thing in him and demand at least some redeeming trait in character, some act of penitence, some holy resolution,something or other which maymitigate guilt and conciliate regard. But the abstract truth that this Man receives sinners as such and eats with them needsto be proclaimed again and again and again-that the ears of unbelieving, mistrustful men may at last receive it-and that theirhearts may feel itspower!
May God the Holy Spirit bless our attempt this morning and His shall be the praise. Now, first of all, Jesus receiving sinners.And secondly, Jesus eating with them.
I. First, then, JESUS RECEIVING SINNERS. This was and is a great fact-our Lord received and still receives sinners! He permitsthem to form a part of His congregation and even to draw near to hear Him. A philosopher wrote over the door of his academy,"He that is not learned, let him notenter here." But Jesus speaks by Wisdom in the Proverbs and says, "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here: as for him thatlacks understanding, let him eat of My bread and drink of the wine which I have mingled" (Prov. 9:4, 5).
He bids the simple come and learn at His feet. Moral teachers have always been choice in the selection of their followersand have thought it a degradation and a casting of pearls before swine to throw their useful maxims, their invaluable dogmasas they dream them to be, before the vulgar herd,the sinful crowd. But this Man receives sinners! Whatever other men may do, this Man, this One, this One alone, if no otherwith Him-this One beyond all other teachers, however gentle and compassionate-this Man receives sinners! He will speak andtell of His mysteries,too, even when sinful ears are listening, for He receives sinners as His disciples, as well as His hearers.
If they come casually into the throng, His eyes glance upon them and He has a word of gentle rebuke and wooing love. But ifthey will come and join the class who cluster constantly about Him, they shall be thoroughly welcome and the deeper and higherTruths reserved for disciples shall be revealedto them, and they shall know the mystery of the kingdom! When He has cleansed sinners, He receives them not only as disciples,but as companions. This Man permits the guilty, the once profane, the lately debauched and formerly dissolute, to associatethemselves with Him-towear His name, to sit in His house-to be written in the same Book of Life with Himself!
He makes them here partakers with Him in His affliction, and hereafter they shall be partakers with Him in His Glory. ThisMan receives pardoned sinners into companionship. No, more, He receives them into friendship. The head that leaned upon Hisbosom was a sinner's head, and those who sat at thetable with Him, to whom He said, "Henceforth I call you not servants, but Friends," were all of them, sinners, as they feltthemselves to be. She who bore Him. She who ministered to Him of her substance. She who washed His feet with tears. She whowas first at His emptysepulcher-all these were sinners and some of them emphatically sinners!
Into His heart's love He receives sinners, takes them from the dunghill and wears them as jewels in His crown. He plucks themas brands from the burning and preserves them as precious monuments of His mercy. And none are so precious in His sight asthe sinners for whom He died. When Jesus receivessinners, He has not some outside reception place where He charitably entertains them for a time, as great men may do passingbeggars. No! He opens the big golden gates of His own heart and He takes the sinner right into Himself-yes, He admits thesinner into personal unionwith Himself and makes the sinner a member of His body-of His flesh and of His bones. There was never such a reception asthis! This fact is still the same-He is still receiving sinners!
This fact must not excite your unbelief because of its strangeness. I know the world, sinful as it is, does not receive sinners.When her character is gone, the fallen woman is pointed at in the streets and no decent society will entertain her. But thisMan receives harlots when their good name andfame has long since become a thing of the past. When the man has played the rogue and the prison has confined him, thereare few among his fellows who will speak with or own him. But this Man receives thieves! A dying thief went with Him intoParadise! Some men who run well for aseason, who suddenly fall from their high estate, are banished and excluded, proscribed and shut out. And I suppose, whilesociety is what it is, this must always be the case.
In Christ's Church discipline requires that the offender should be put forth from us. It is painful, but it must be done.But there is no "must" of this sort pressing with dire necessity upon the tender heart of the Savior! He can receive withoutpollution-yes, even receive into His heartwithout injury to His purity. "This Man receives sinners." Contrary to the maxims and customs and ways of the world, Jesuskeeps open house for outcasts! When all other doors are shut, this Man's door is open. When everyone else has bid you go yourway as an unclean thing, not fitto be looked upon, this Man still stands crying, "Come unto Me! Come unto Me and I will give you rest!"
Blessed fact! May you prove its truthfulness, dear Friends, by going to Jesus yourself, even though you are in the worst sensea sinner. "This man receives sinners"-not, however, that they may remain sinners, but to pardon their sins, to justify theirpersons, to cleanse their hearts by theHoly Spirit-to preserve their souls by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to lead them on from strength to strength, toenable them to serve Him and to show forth His praise, to have communion with Him and to enjoy His love. "This Man receivessinners," at last, to reign withHim in Glory everlasting when the world and sin shall have passed away. Thus much we have noticed with regard to the fact.O blessed Spirit, give poor troubled consciences power to rest in this sweet Truth!
I want your attention to another thought, namely, the consistency of this fact. It is a most consistent and proper thing thatthis Man should receive sinners. If the Pharisees had not been rendered useless by their prejudice and would have consideredthe matter a little while, they might havethought so, too. Consider His Person-who was this Man? He claimed to be, and even they, themselves, must have acknowledgedHim to have been by descent, the Son of David. It was most natural that the Son of David should receive sinners! It is whatDavid did-you expect tosee the Son of David doing what His father did before Him.
Do you not remember when David fled to the hold, in the cave of Adullam, that it is written, "Everyone that was in distressand everyone that was in debt and everyone that was discontented gathered themselves unto him and he became a captain untothem"? The very first band of men that ever servedunder David were most disreputable characters in the eye of Saul and his government. They had escaped from their countrypartly impoverished through the tyrannical conduct of Saul, and probably being knee-deep in treason against him, they escapedto put themselves under theleadership of that captain of bandits called David. It seemed but natural that the Son of David should receive just sucha company when He began to establish His spiritual monarchy.
The New Jerusalem is founded upon Christ Jesus who is pure and perfect, but its first stones are hewn out of the quarriesof sin. Our Lord Jesus, like Solomon, builds the temple of the Church, but the materials come from among those Tyrian sinnerswho are strangers and aliens by birth. The Saviortakes, as His father, David, did before Him, discontented bankrupts and distressed traitors that they may make up His band.If they had thought of that circumstance, they might have seen that it was not quite so strange that the Son of David receivedsinners! If you and I reflectawhile, we shall remember that the types which were set forth concerning Christ all seem to teach us that He must receivesinners.
One of the earliest types of the Savior was Noah's ark, by which a certain company, not only of men, but also of the lowestanimals, were preserved from perishing by water and were floated out of the old world into the new. See, going up the hillon which the ark is built, not only the fleetgazelle, the timid sheep, the patient ox, the noble horse, the generous dog and the fair creatures that you would wish tospare-but here comes the lion, his jaws all stained with blood! Here is the fierce tiger and the wild hyena, the filthy swineand the stupidass-creatures of all kinds come here and find shelter!
Who complains? I hear no voice lifting up its veto and crying, "There is no room for the swine here. There is no room forthe fierce tiger here." The ark was ordained on purpose to save some of every kind. And just so, our Savior, Jesus, receivesall sorts of people into Himself. It is no marvel ifthis Man receives sinners! Fly here, you loving and tender doves! Come here, you sweet birds of purest song! But ho, youravens, eagles, vultures, and birds of evil name, you hurry here, also, for the Ark receives all who come!
A very prominent type under the Levitical dispensation was the City of Refuge. If a man had slain another, he fled from thepursuer of blood with hot haste and swift foot. And he ran at once into the City of Refuge and the gates were shut and hewas preserved. Now, Brethren, you would not havethought it a strange thing if you had seen a man-slayer flying to the city! You would have thought it far more singularif any came there but man-slayers! "Why," you say, "this city has been set up and ordained on purpose that men who have beenmen-slayers might find refuge withinits walls, and therefore it is natural to find the red-handed man come fleeing here."
Beloved, Jesus Christ is the City of Refuge! Who should fly to Him but the sinner wanting refuge? And who should need shelterbut those requiring sanctuary from the avenger of blood? When you see the guilty hastening to Jesus, you say, "It is in keepingwith the type, and it is no marvel whateverthat He receives them." The scapegoat, again, was a very manifest type of the Messiah. They laid the sins of the peopleupon the scapegoat's head and then it took all their iniquities away into the wilderness. Now, suppose some objecting critichad said, "This goat which is setapart in the worship of God actually bears sins upon its head and here are sinful people coming to put their sins there."Who else should come? What was the meaning of the scapegoat, if there were no sin among the people of Israel? Come here today,not you righteous-for youneed no scapegoat-but you sinful ones!
Here is the Sin-Bearer in type before you, set apart to bear the iniquity of the people. He is about to be driven into thewilderness to take sin away! Come here and put your sins upon him, for unless you come, the ceremony will have no meaningwhatever! Look through any of the types, and with veryfew exceptions, the thought of sin is prominent and the doctrine that Christ is to come into the world to save sinners isclearly written upon the front of the whole set of types of the Old Testament.
Let us remark again that the metaphors which Christ has used to set Himself forth, many, if not all of them, imply that Hereceives sinners. What is written concerning Him? "There shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitantsof Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." Inour hymns, over and over and over again we delight to sing-
"There is a fountain filled with blood"
and yet again,
"The fountain of Christ, Lord help us to sing."
Now what is the fountain for but for the cleansing of the filthy? Cleanse the already clean? Absurd! Why do they need it?If they are already pure, why do they need to wash? But the fact that there is provision made for great washing implies greatfilthiness and that the fountain is furnished witha purifying element of wondrous power, namely, precious blood, seems to indicate that it was meant for great sin, unheard-ofsin-sin which to the uttermost has polluted and defiled the frame of manhood.
The Savior also describes Himself as a feast in many of His parables. A great king makes a supper, and oxen and fatlings arekilled. Now for whom is a feast prepared but for the hungry? In the parables the feast is set not merely for hungry persons,but the blind, the halt and the lame are calledand compelled to enter. The Savior would not have delighted to set Himself forth as waters except for the sake of thirstyones, or as meat, had there been no famishing souls. "Ho, everyone that thirsts," He says, "come to the waters. And he thathas no money, let him come buy wineand milk, without money and without price." Why all this to persons who have no needs? Sinners are those who have theseneeds, these hunger and thirst. And they are bid to come to Christ as the Gospel Feast!
Moreover, the Master has been pleased to take to Himself one or two titles which imply that He came to receive sinners. Hetakes the title of Physician, but as He told these very Pharisees a little while before, "The whole have no need of a physician,but they that are sick." There is no practicefor the physician in a neighborhood where every man is well. There must be sickness to involve the necessity for a physician.Why his art? Why his skill in pharmacy if men are safe and sound without it? And why Christ the Savior-the Pardoner-if noneto save or forgive?There is no supererogation in the Bible, nothing superfluous-why Christ a Physician, unless for the sick? He styles Himselfvery frequently the Redeemer, and saints in the olden times delighted to speak of Him as their Redeemer.
But a Redeemer for whom? Who wants redeeming but a slave? Who needs to be purchased into liberty but the man who is in hopelessbondage and cannot free himself from the chain? A redeemer for men already free-how can it be? He sets free not free men,but captives! He looses real and irksomefetters! He snaps not fictitious chains which fancy binds about fretful, frivolous persons-He breaks iron chains and snatchesreal yokes from off the necks of the thoroughly bound. There can be no Redeemer in the fullness of the title unless the personsare enslaved and Hisoffice must relate to such. I think I may distinctly say that if all the titles of the Savior do not involve or supposethe existence of sins, most do, and that either directly, or indirectly, they would furnish an argument to me to show thatthis Man came into the world to receivesinners.
If more evidence were wanted, I would point you to the Savior's miracles. The miracles which the Savior performed were veryfew of them miracles of judgment. They were almost all miracles of mercy. They were performed upon the sick, symbolical ofHis spiritual miracles upon the morally sick. Theywere performed upon persons possessed of devils, as if to show at once that even the devilish element which enters intoman's rebellion is not too strong for the Savior to conquer, or too foul for Him to touch. His miracles were sometimes workedon the dead and those, as you willremember, in different stages of corruption. The young child in Jairus' chamber was yet sweet of flesh as though she hadjust fallen asleep-He quickened her. The young man at the gates of Nain was taken out to be buried-already there were tokenswhich made the mothersay, "Let us bury our dead out of our sight." But the Almighty voice quickened him!
As for Lazarus, he had been dead four days already, and his sister said, "By this time he stinks." And as if to betoken thatJesus Christ can deliver not only from incipient sin, but from sin in its foulest stage of corruption and putridity, He spoketo Lazarus and said, "Lazarus, come forth."These miracles must have had some meaning and some teaching. If He thus touched men and healed their natural infirmities,how can you think He will not, whose mission is mainly spiritual, heal spiritual infirmities?
He might have said, and said truly, "Though I heal you, that is not the grand design of My mission-My kingdom is not of thisworld, nor are my healings intended to be of this world, either, in their grandest development. I descended from Heaven toheal sick souls, to raise the spirituallydead and conquer disease in the realm of spirit, rather than in the physical world." This day every miracle of the Saviorseems to cry to me, to you, "Diseased souls, look to Jesus Christ and be saved!" Did you ever observe how many of His parables,also, are to the sameeffect-how, time after time, as in the three memorable parables of the chapter before us, it is the sinner that He is teachingand it is God's love in forgiving sin that He is endeavoring to set forth before the eyes which self-righteousness has made,alas, so dim and blind?
He is constantly telling us of a vainglorious Pharisee whose prayer is a mass of reeking pride. And of a penitent Publicanwhose humble cry brings justification from on high. He speaks of two debtors who had nothing to pay, frankly forgiven-andof the one who loved most, because he had mostforgiven. He talks of a barren fig tree, spared to be dug about and fertilized, of a wounded man, pitied and succored bya good Samaritan. He tells us of loiterers admitted to the vineyard at the eleventh hour. And of poor, and halt, and lameentertained at a banquet of love.
I need not continue longer in this strain, for I think the consistency of the fact is evident to you all. I can well picturebefore me Jesus Christ receiving sinners, but I cannot imagine Him, I cannot, with the utmost stretch of the imagination,picture Him as rejecting sinners. I cannot read ofthe rest of His life and then think of Him as saying, "Stand back you unclean." I cannot suppose Him with a crowd beforeHim, crying, "Far from Me, you ungodly! Keep a distance from this pure and sacred Being who condescends to look upon you!"And I cannot-I will not try,either-I cannot fancy it possible that He will reject you, my dear Friend, if you go this morning into His Presence andhumbly seek His face. It would be altogether a departure from His constant mode of action, and there can be no such departurefor He is the same yesterday,today and forever!
Thus, I think, we have shown the consistency of the fact with the Person and work of Christ. Observe the condescension ofthis fact. This Man, who towers above all other men holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners-this Man receivessinners! This Man, who is none other than theeternal God before whom angels veil their faces-this Man receives sinners! It needs an angel's tongue to describe this mightystoop of love! That any of us should be willing to seek after the lost seed of the house of Adam is nothing wonderful-theyare of our own race!But that He, the offended God against whom the transgression had been committed-that HE should take upon Himself the formof a servant and bear the sins of many, and should then, as Man, be willing to receive the vilest of the vile and blot outtheir transgressions andiniquities-this is marvelous!
It is only rendered believable at all by the fact that God Himself declares it and that abundant witnesses testify to it.I do think that if, for the first time, any but God had told the angels of this, they could not have conceived it as true!And I do not wonder that sometimes sinners under asense of sin cry out, "It is too good to be true!" It were, indeed, too good if it were looked at from our side of the question,but viewed as coming from God, the infinite Fountain of all bounty and mercy, it is believable-it is joyfully certain! Itis the greatest wonder inHeaven, or earth, or even in Hell! There is no marvel like the Truth of God that, "The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongus"-that He who ever lives bowed His head to die for sinners-and having made atonement for sin, now receives the very chiefof sinners into Hisheart's love and makes them His companions and His friends!
Oh, will you kick against such condescension as this? Will your hearts be like iron when you think of such favor as this manifestedto sinful men? Sinners, when God stoops, will you not stoop? When from the highest Heaven He seeks you, will you not seekHim? When you thus see His love so infinitelyrevealed, are there no drawings of heart, are there no meltings of penitence towards the bleeding Savior? Surely cold dropsof horror might stand even upon marble, or ooze forth from granite at the sound of Calvary's groans! And are there no tearsin your eyes, no thoughts ofmelting, moving penitence when you mark such mercy and compassion manifested towards you? Jesus condescends to receive sinnersand yet they stand out against Him! Be astonished, O heavens! Be ashamed, O earth!
We do but touch that point and now let us notice the certainty of this fact. That "this Man receives sinners" is undeniable.Sometimes when the sinner comes, Jesus is standing on the doorstep and before he begins to knock, he is safe in the Savior'sarms and finds himself forgiven before he hastime to make a complete confession. At other times men have to knock, but the very first knock opens the door. Some of usstood knocking four or five years, unbelievingly knocking, but still knocking anxiously, craving mercy and not finding it.Ah, but we did find it after all! Itdoes not say that He will show you that He has received you in the next minute or two-that He will pour peace into yourspirit the first moment He receives you-but He will receive you!
If He tarries, wait for Him! Knock and knock, and knock again, for there never yet was a soul that could say, "I was a sinner-Iwent to this Man and He did not receive me." You are growing weary, are you, young man? These three or four months that youhave been watching and praying have triedyour patience. Ah, dear Brother, don't you see the Cross and the Savior hanging on it? If you look to Him, your time ofsuspense will doubtless be over at once! You have made a mistake-darkness has been over your eyes! You have been looking inthe wrong places-to yourfeelings, your penitence, your faith-rather than to Him! Or, if it is true that He has kept you waiting, yet wait on! Hopeon, hope always! While the lamp holds out to burn, despair must not trample down your soul. Jesus must receive you-He didreceive sinners once, andagain, I bid you, remember that He is the same yesterday, today and forever! He must receive you-cast yourself on Him andyou shall find that He will receive you!
There is a great multitude of people here this morning and yet among us all there is not one who can say, "We sought the Lordand He would not receive us." But there are many hundreds here, who, though they had a sorry time of it in the season of conviction,yet can clap their hands and say,"Truly, truly, the Master does manifest Himself to all who cry to Him in truth. Try Him, then, and you will find it truewith you, too!
I shall want you now, dear Friends, for a moment, to permit me to show the adaptation of this fact to many who are now present."This Man receives sinners," is an announcement well adapted to many of this congregation. It is so very plain. If it werea sentence which needed much explanation, itmight not suit the multitude. There would be some who would think it over and say, "Alas! Such a text hardly meets my case.It is a mystery! I cannot get at the bottom of it." But this is so simple, "This Man receives sinners." You know what it isto be received into a house? Yougo, you knock, the door opens, you are received. This is all you have to do in the matter of salvation, too! You go as youare to Christ. You knock. You are received.
It is a blessed sentence from its plainness. It is very blessed, too, from its personality. I can see my name in it. You willsay, "How?" Well, dear Friends, I wish you may be able to see yours. "This Man receives sinners." It does not say He receivesJohn, Hannah, Sarah, Mary or Thomas-itsays much better than that-it says, "This man receives SINNERS." Now there may be a mistake about my name being Charles.And if I found it written in God's Word that He received a person of my name, I should always be excessively anxious aboutthe registration. I should beafraid lest I should not really be the person described. But when it says, He "receives sinners," I am very clear aboutthis meaning me, for I know I am a sinner.
The devil himself, liar as he is, dares not say I am not a sinner! No, he oftentimes does me very good service by tellingme how very clearly that is my name. And I never thank him for anything but that-that he does sometimes help one to read histitle clear by enabling one to see distinctlythat he is a sinner! Well, you are a sinner-then the text means you- and, "This man receives sinners." If you were in somecountry, say in the center of Africa, wandering about at night amidst a crowd of huts, wondering where you could find lodgingfor the night. If yousaw a board put up very legibly printed with these words, "This person receives white men," why you would say to yourself,"That is it." You would not care that it did not say, "This person receives John Smith or Tom Brown." It would be quite enoughfor you, "He receives white men."
You are a white man and you would say, "He receives me." Now, this Man receives sinners, you are a sinner-then He will receiveyou. Suppose we reverse it, and there were put up a notice in one of our streets, "At this house they receive black men."Now, I cannot conceive any black man saying,"They will not receive me because I am so very black. Why," he would say, "It says they will receive me and the more blackI am the more certainly is this invitation meant for me. If I am a jet-black man, then I am very black and they will, withless hesitation receive me." I cannotsuppose a half-caste man saying, "Well, I have a little white in me, therefore I feel sure they will take me." He mightfeel proud of it, but then there would come afterwards the thought, "I am not so clear that this is meant for me, if I amnot all black."
So if there are any of you who are a little self-righteous and say, "I do not know whether I am such a sinner as some peopleare," you may doubt whether you are a sinner. But you who know you are sinners right through to the backbone-sinners everywhereand every way-there cannot be anydoubt about you, your name is as clearly there as possible! There is plainness and there is personality. But there is presentness,too. "This Man receives sinners." Sometimes on the doorsteps of workhouses you may see a very sorry sight late at night-acompany of men, womenand boys crowding on the doorstep to spend the night there because they came too late. There must be an hour when the workhousemust be shut and the refuge for the night closed, but they arrived too late and outside they must be kept.
But you never saw a soul shivering outside Christ's door on the doorstep of eternal ruin because it came too late in thislife! There was the thief-he had a hard run for it, but he just reached the door in time. Without doubt it is written on thetop of my Master's door, "This Manreceives-at all times and at all seasons-this Man receives sinners." It will be a dolorous day for you, some of you, ifyou die as you now are, when this sentence will be blotted out and you will see written over the door of Mercy, "This Manreceived sinners." Then itwill be the Hell of your hells that He did receive sinners once, but that you never came! That when it was said, "He receivessinners," you passed by carelessly and proudly and would not enter. And now mercy is a thing of the past and you are shutup where hope can never come, inthe flames of Hell!
But as long as life lasts, dear Hearers, that inscription stands in all its glorious presentness, "This Man receives sinners."Do observe the unqualified sense in which the sentence is put, "This Man receives sinners." But how? What sort of sinners?How are they to feel? How are they to come? Not aword is said about their coming, or their preparation, but simply, "This Man receives sinners." Some sinners came to Christwalking. Others came to Christ limping on crutches, having lost a leg-He never turned any away because they came on crutches.One man came on hisbed-indeed, he did not come, but was brought by other people. Jesus received him all the same for that. There were somewho did not seek the Lord at all, but Christ Jesus came to them and received them by a blessed victory of Divine Grace. Hereceives sinners and the onlystipulation that is put in at all is, "whoever will, let him take the water of life freely." If you will, take! If you havea will to Christ-if God has given you a will towards Christ Jesus-and if you have nothing beyond that will-no feelings, noemotions, noworks, no experience which could qualify you for Him. If you do but will-"Whoever will, let him take of the water of lifefreely"-"This man receives sinners."
Sometimes if you want to get a child into an Orphan Asylum, you might just as well keep the child yourself as go through theexpense and trouble of working to get the child in-there are so many difficulties to be encountered in effecting your design.If you want to get to Jesus Christ, thereis no trouble, no expense. Going to Jesus Christ is coming to an open door of mercy. The city of the New Jerusalem, youremember, had four gates and we are told none of them are ever shut, "they are not shut at all by day and there is no nightthere." So that come as we may, "ThisMan receives sinners just as they come to Him."
II. Now, I wanted to speak upon the second head, but I had not sufficient forethought to store up the time, so we must onlysay of that just this-Jesus Christ, having once received sinners, enters into the most familiar and endearing communion withthem that is possible. HE FEASTS WITHTHEM-their joys are His joys-their work for God is His work for God. He feasts with them at their table and they with Himat His table-and He does this wherever the table is spread. It may be in a attic, or in a cellar-in a wilderness, or on amountain-He still eats with them.
He does this now in the ordinances and means of Grace by His Spirit. And this He will do in the fullness of Glory when Hetakes these sinners up to dwell with Him. Sinners are not merely permitted the parings of mercy, but the very marrow and fatness!They are not only allowed to sit and dip theirfeet in the margin of the stream, but they may wade in and find it a river to swim in-they shall not, in Heaven, sit inthe outer circle-they shall draw near the Throne and reign with Jesus! There is nothing which Christ will not give to sinners.They shall be crowned.They shall have harps of gold. They shall dwell in the many mansions near to God Himself!
There is no second and lower party, as it were-He does not receive sinners and put them at the lower end of the table, belowthe salt. He receives sinners and eats with them! He receives them into the soul and flower of Christian life and Christianprivilege among all the favored saints ofthe celestial courts! I would to God I had time to plead this matter home with some who are here this morning and who arenot Believers in Jesus. Oh, Sinner, trust my Master and you shall be saved! May the Spirit of God make you trust Him now!I know your sense of unworthiness. Iknow you feel you are not fit to come. But He says nothing about fitness, so why should you say it? Christ lays down noconditions, so why do you make conditions? "This Man receives sinners."
Why, says Bunyan, "I felt myself such a sinner once that I could do nothing but fly to Christ. And if He had had a drawn swordin His hand, the terrors of Hell were so dreadful that I could have borne the terrors of that drawn sword to escape from thewrath of God." But here, instead of the drawnsword is the warm loving heart! Fly to it, Sinner! God help you to fly now, that you may be saved! If He should reject you,come and tell me. I would not knowingly preach a lying Gospel-and if you can prove to me that He does not receive sinners,we will have a Sunday serviceand preach that the Gospel has failed, for we will preach the truth of Him and not speak falsely for God. When you findHe rejects a coming sinner, let us hear it, that our hopes may no longer be as bright and high as they are now!
Try the Lord Jesus, Sinner! Taste and see that the Lord is good! Come to Jesus now! Come as you are! Come now to Him! Youneed not stop to get to your houses to bend your knees to pray. One cry, one tear, one LOOK with the believing eye will doit. "Look unto Me and be you saved, all you ends ofthe earth." While we thus preach, may the Master enter into your hearts by His Spirit and may you be led to Him, and wewill praise Him together, world without end. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Luke 15