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.
This is exactly why many of the so-called sinners’ lives would be impacted by Jesus and the Pharisees remained stubbornly unchanged by the work of God in their midst. The publicans and sinners drew near to Jesus. They wanted to hear Him and to be near to Him. Their hearts were open to Him. They came without pretense, desiring to learn and understand. And so His Word and His Spirit worked in their lives.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, saw sinners as something other, something beneath them that they pretended they were not a part of. They classified others as sinners without recognizing they were sinners, too. So they didn’t draw near to hear, but stood back to scoff and judge and murmur. And this created such a vast distance in their hearts that they were unaffected by the teachings of Christ.
But while the Pharisees would scoff at sinners drawing near, Jesus gladly received them. What a contrast Jesus always is to those worldly attitudes. Jesus loved the unlovable. He touched the untouchable. He drew near to the outcasts. And He saves sinners. He is the seeking Shepherd, longing for the lost sheep to be carried home in His arms. He gladly receives all who come to Him with evident love. He demonstrates a grace and compassion sorely lacking in the hardened attitudes of the Pharisees.
What kind of heart do we have when it comes to Jesus? Do we seek to draw near and hear what He would say? Do we desire a close relationship with Him? Do we want to learn from Him and let Him impact our lives? Or do we keep our distance? Do we recognize our condition as sinners and our need for a Savior? Jesus’ love for us knows no bounds. He loved the Pharisees just as much as the sinners they condemned. His love is available to all who would receive it. So may we humbly choose to draw near to Him and continue to draw near as we learn and grow in Him.