Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
Isn’t it so amazing that Jesus allows us—the publicans and sinners, the worst of the worst—to draw near? Isn’t it so amazing that the holy Son of God does not turn us away with scorn, like the scribes and Pharisees would? Isn’t it even more amazing that He invites us to come closer still, to come into a special relationship with Him, to abide in Him, to get to a place where He dwells within our heart? The Pharisees looked down upon these people, but, oh, how Jesus loves them. He hates sin, but He loves sinners, and so He treats them—us—with kindness and compassion.
Then look at the stories He tells them—a lost sheep, a lost coin, the prodigal son. He wants these sinners who drew near to know that God would rejoice to receive them, that even the angels are glad when a sinner repents. He wants them to know that though they’ve done wrong and carry that label of “sinner” that He seeks them, He searches diligently for them, He values them, and He wants them near to Him. Because we all have to realize we are lost before we can be found. If we, like the Pharisees, don’t see our true condition, then Jesus can do nothing for us.
How can we not, then, be drawn to Jesus, as well? How can we hear these words and understand the love He has and not respond to that call for repentance? How can we stay lost in our sin when our Shepherd seeks after us, when we are the lost treasure He longs to find, when our Father awaits our return with open arms? Have we come near? Have we understood what He’s said? And will that cause us to go nearer still?
Jesus is speaking to us—the wandering, the lost, the broken—and inviting us home. We were separate, but He wants us near to Him. We were apart from Him, but He wants us united with Him. We were far off, but He wants us as close as we can get. As sinners, we are able to draw near and receive His mercy into our lives. How much more, then, after we’ve shed that label of sinner and have become the children of God, can we draw near to Jesus? So let’s enter often into fellowship with our Lord, seeking more of Him and His truth.