Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
Praise the Lord that Jesus receives sinners, for to who else could we go? There is no hope in any other. There is no reason to go anywhere else, for we are sinners indeed, and we need the only one who can set us free. Praise the Lord that His attitude is one that allows all who seek Him to come unto Him, that none are turned away who would draw near, though they be called publicans and sinners, for what else but sinners were we when we came to Jesus ourselves?
Let’s cast off the attitude of the Pharisees and be sure to never hinder those who would come to Jesus. Who knows what strength it might have taken for that one sinner to dare to draw near? So let’s not shame him away with a self-righteous attitude. There was hardly ever a non-sinner to come to Jesus, for He is the only sinless one. Let’s not think others’ sins less worthy of forgiveness than our own. Let’s not stand off to the side and mock and deride, but instead offer an open invitation for others to come to know Christ, as well.
When we first come trembling forth to seek salvation, Jesus’ arms are open to receive us. When we’ve gone astray and wandered a dark path through sin, He awaits our return and gladly receives us again. When we rebel in our hearts against Him, turn aside from following Him, sink into disobedience, yet again He waits to receive us. So all we need to do is come and draw near. Because Jesus receives all sinners, and therefore receives each of us. He takes us and forgives us. He helps us. He heals us. He brings us joy and peace and satisfaction. He gives us life and hope. He is our eternal Friend, our Redeemer, our Lord.
The Pharisees meant it as a rebuke of Jesus. They didn’t see themselves as sinners, needy of Jesus, and so they are cast far from Him. But each heart that longs for Jesus will not be turned away. All who humbly draw near, seeing the truth of their own sinfulness, will find all they need in the presence of our Lord. Yes, Jesus receives us unto Himself, and He blesses us while we yet abide on Earth. But one day He will take us to be with Him where He is, and we will dine eternally at our Master’s table.