Sermon #111                                                 Luke Sermons


     Title:          This Man Receiveth Sinners

     Text:          Luke 15:2

     Subject:     Christ’s Willingness to Save

     Date:         Sunday Morning—December 7, 2003

     Tape #       X-92a

     Reading:    Psalm 116:1-5 & John 8:1-11



My text is Luke 15:2. We will begin in verse 1.


(Luke 15:1) “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him."


The publicans, the very lowest, the most contemptible of men, the public oppressors, scorned and hated by the Jews, these, together with sinners, the worst of characters, the scum of the streets and the very riff-raff of the society, gathered close at the feet of the Lord Jesus to hear his words.


There was a great crowd of very respectable, good, religious people present, but they stood at a distance. They were not vile, base men. They did not need a Savior. They were not in need of mercy. They required no forgiveness. They were highly esteemed in the synagogues as rulers, and governors, and teachers.


They looked upon this Prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, with scorn. They watched him with malicious eyes, trying to find some fault with everything he said and did. They could find no flaw in him. They could not answer or repudiate his doctrine. So they did the best (the worst) they could. They found an opportunity to slander his name by the company he kept. Look at verse 2.


(Luke 15:2)  "And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."


This shocked their proud, self-righteous notion of propriety. When those proud Pharisees and Scribes saw that the Lord Jesus was comfortable in the company of such bad people, that he was kind, gracious and warm toward them, when they heard him speak words of tender mercy and grace to them, they sneered, pointed their fingers and said, what they considered a very disgraceful thing. ― "This man receiveth sinners."


They thought this was his disgrace. But our Savior wears the accusation as a badge of honor. They could not have uttered anything more evidently true or more thoroughly descriptive of our great God and Savior. I am here to proclaim this blessed fact, this God honoring revelation of grace. ― “This man receiveth sinner, and eateth with them!


Divisions: My message has just two points: a statement of fact and a blessed conclusion.


1.       Here is a statement of fact, revealed and verified throughout the life and ministry of our Savior. ― “This man receiveth sinners.

2.       Here is a most reasonable conclusion that I draw fro the fact that “This man receiveth sinners.” ― Surely, then, he will receive me.


I.                   Here is a statement of fact, revealed and verified throughout the life and ministry of our Savior. ― “This man receiveth sinners.


I do not suggest that Christ receives everybody, but that he "receiveth sinners." In our day it has become fashionable for everyone to lie against what he believes, and to say he is a sinner, even when he believes himself a very good, respectable person.


We often hear people say, “Of course I am a sinner.” Then, he takes refuge, mitigating what he has just said, by adding, “We are all sinners. No one is perfect.” When they acknowledge themselves to be sinners, they simply say what they know they are expected to say. It means no more to them, than reading aloud the words of a sentence in a foreign language that they do not understand. They have no understanding of what it is to be a sinner. They are really, at heart, just like the Scribes and Pharisees here in Luke 15.


A.   These Scribes and Pharisees made a distinction between themselves and sinners; and the Master endorsed it.


When they saw the Master eating with Publicans and harlots, they stood to one side, pointed at them, as a people totally unlike them, and said, “This man receiveth sinners. We are not like them. They are sinners.”


Hear me now, you who vainly imagine that you are good. You know who you are. Our Savior endorses the distinction you make between yourself and others. In your own opinion, you are not sinners. Therefore, you stand exempt from the good news of the gospel. I have nothing for you. This Book has nothing for you. God has nothing for you. Christ has nothing for you (1 Tim. 1:15).


(Mat 9:13)  "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."


(Mark 2:17)  "When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."


(Luke 5:32)  "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."


(Luke 19:10)  "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."


(Rom 5:8)  "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."


(1 Tim 1:15)  "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."


The Son of God always heals them that have need of healing (Luke 9:11); but folks who have no need of healing have no need of him. Christ receives not the righteous, not the good, not the whole-hearted, not those who dream that they do not need a Savior, but sinners, men and women who know themselves to be and acknowledge before God that they are sinners, broken in spirit, contrite in heart, trembling before him.


Is there a sinner in this house? Have I found a sinner? I have good news from God for you.

·       God saves sinners!

·       Christ came down here to save sinners!

·       He lived for sinners!

·       He died for sinners!

·       He makes intercession for sinners!


There is in Christ Jesus redemption for the ruined, grace for the guilty, mercy for the mean, pardon for the profligate, righteousness for the wretched, deliverance for the damned, and salvation for sinners!


B.   None but sinners ever come to Christ.


God chose sinners. God commends his love to sinners. God calls sinners to repentance. ― No one else, just sinners. And none but sinners ever come to him. There has never been such a miracle as a self-righteous man coming to Christ for mercy; none but those who need a Savior come to the Savior. If you do not consider yourself in need of a Savior, you will never approach his throne and seek his mercy. Therefore, our Savior said, “Ye will not come to me that ye may have life.


Illustration: Only the guilty confess their guilt and through themselves upon the mercy of the court.


C.   None but sinners will come to Christ; and none but sinners can come to him.


The self-righteous man cannot come to Christ. To come to Christ is to trust him for mercy, to look to him for righteousness, redemption, atonement, and forgiveness, and to deny yourself. Is that not what he tells us?


I cannot come to Christ, except I own myself a sinner and deny all personal worth, merit and righteousness. This, the good, righteous cannot do. A self-righteous man cannot repent, for he has nothing of which to repent. He cannot trust Christ for forgiveness, for he has nothing to be forgiven. His knee cannot bend to seek pardon, for he has no need of pardon.


·       His hands are full. He cannot cry, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”

·       He is not impotent. He cannot pray, “Helpless, look to thee for grace.”

·       He is splendidly robed. He cannot say, “Naked, look to thee for dress.”

·       He is altogether clean, He cannot cry, “Foul, I to the Fountain fly, wash me Savior, or I die.”


Only the sick need a physician. Only the poor need a benefactor. Only the guilty need grace. Only the sinner needs a Savior.


D.  Our text declares, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.


I know that these words were spoken by unbelieving, self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees; but God often uses both Balaam and his ass to proclaim great truths of which they know nothing. As it was with Caiaphas, the high priest, in John 11, so it was with these men. They spoke, not of themselves, but by the direction of God’s Spirit, and spoke in complete agreement with the whole Book of God. But what does this mean? ― “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.


1.    It means that the Lord Jesus Christ receives sinners to all the benefits of grace he has purchased for them.


·       Is there a Fountain opened for cleansing? He receives sinners to wash them in it.

·       Is there medicine for the soul? He receives sinners to heal all their diseases.

·       Is there refuge for the guilty? He receives sinners into that retreat of mercy.


All that he has of love, all that he has of mercy, all that he has of atonement, all that he has of sanctification, all that he has of righteousness, all that he has of redemption, all that he has of acceptance—to all this he receives the sinner.


2.    Still there is more. Our all-glorious Christ is not content to take us into his house. ― He receives us his very heart.


He takes the black and filthy sinner, having washed him in his blood, and says, "thou art my beloved; my desire is towards thee." His left hand of mercy is under our head. His right arm of grace embraces us. “He brought e into his banqueting house, and his banner over me is love!” Then, at last, he brings the saint (the sinner saved by his grace) home to heaven, wipes all tears from his eyes, and gives him his glory!


3.    Let me ring this bell again. Hear it and rejoice. ― "This man receiveth sinners."


He receives none but sinners. He saves none but those who know themselves to be sinners. Full, free salvation is preached to every sinner in the universe; but I have no salvation to preach to those who are not sinners.


Oh, how I pray that God may throw you self-righteous, good folk, like Saul of Tarsus, to the ground and make you sinners. All your righteousnesses are but filthy rags. All your goodness must be broken in pieces. "This man receiveth sinners!"


Illustration: Taken From Biblical Illustrator ― The devil’s castaways received by Christ: “Mr. Whitfield,” said Lady Huntingdon, “these ladies have been preferring a very heavy charge against you. They say that in your sermon last night you made use of this expression: “So ready is Christ to receive sinners who come to Him, that He is willing to receive the devil’s castaways.” Mr. Whitfield pleaded guilty to the charge, and told them of the following circumstance. “A wretched woman came to me this morning, and said: ‘ Sir, I was passing the door of your chapel, and hearing the voice of some one preaching, I did what I have never been in the habit of doing, I went in I and one of the first things I heard you say was that Jesus would receive willingly the devil’s castaways. Sir, I have been in the town for many years, and am so worn out in his service, that I may with truth be called one of the devil’s castaways. Do you think that Jesus would receive me? “I,” said Mr. Whitfield, “assured her that there was not a doubt of it, if she was willing to go to Him.” From the sequel it appeared that this was a case of true conversion, and Lady Huntingdon was assured that the woman left a very charming testimony behind her, that though her sins had been of a crimson hue, the atoning blood of Christ had washed them white as snow.


4.    As great and good as that is, still there is more here. ― The word here translated, "receiveth," is a very expressive and instructive term.


The word means ― “waits, watches, looks out for, lies in wait for.” It is found fourteen times in the New Testament; and in all other places it is translated this way.

·       Mark 15:43 ― "who waited far the kingdom of God."

·       Luke 2:25 ― "waiting for the consolation of Israel."

·       2:38 ― "looked for redemption in Jerusalem."

·       12:36 ― "men that wait for their Lord."

·       Acts 23:21, 24:15, Titus 2:13, Jude 21.


This man, the Lord Jesus, the God -man is looking out for sinners! Paul waited to receive all who came to him (Acts 28) ; but our Savior goes out in search for them. He lies in wait for sinners; for Mary’s, and Matthews, and Zaccheuses.


What does that mean? ― “This man receives, waits, lies in wait for and watches out for sinner.” I cannot begin to tell you all that it means, but it’s all good! He does not lie in wait as the lion for his prey, but as the Shepherd for his straying sheep. It implies that


(1.) He loves sinners. ― Indeed otherwise it has no meaning. The three parables which follow indicate this. It is love, tender, compassionate, self-sacrificing, forgiving love, that is the mainspring of this waiting for sinners.


(John 3:14-16)  "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: {15} That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. {16} For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."


(Rom 5:6-8)  "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. {7} For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. {8} But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."


(1 John 3:16)  "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."


(2.) How long-suffering Christ is toward sinners, how patient. ― As the hunter or the fisherman waits patiently hour after hour to seize his object, so does this waiting, watching Savior. Unwearied patience with the ungodly, the wandering, the hard-hearted, the profligate, marked his life on earth; and He is still the same patient one in heaven. "He bath long patience."


(2 Pet 3:9)  "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."


(3.) Our Savior is intent upon the salvation of sinners. ― He is thoroughly in earnest. His patience is not indifference; his love is not mere good-natured benevolence. It is all earnestness with Him. It was so on earth; it is so in heaven.


(4.) Certainly, this speaks of our Redeemer’s desire and determination to bless. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He “delighteth in mercy!


How does he do it? How does the Lord Jesus wait for sinners, watching, lying in wait to receive them? ― His life on earth is a specimen of how He does it. His days and nights were spent in seeking the lost.

·       By the sea of Galilee

·       In the coasts of Tyre and Sidon

·       On the highways of Judea

·       In the synagogue, in the temple, in the village, in the city, by Jacob’s well

He was seeking the lost. How does He do this now? How or where is He lying in wait for sinners?


(1.) In the word. ― He is the Alpha and Omega of this Book. Out of these pages He speaks to us. From Genesis to Revelation we hear his voice. It is the voice of love. "Come unto me," is the burden of the Old Testament as well as of the New. It is not merely that each chapter speaks of Jesus; but in each chapter Jesus speaks to us. In each verse He is lying in wait for us.


(2.) In the gospel. ― The preaching of the gospel is not the practice of oratory and rhetoric for the entertainment of men on their way to hell. It is God and Christ beseeching men to be reconciled. It is the Son of God looking out for sinners; stretching out his hands from the pulpit to sinners.


(3.) In providence. ― What a meaning there is in that word providence when used not a substitute for God, but as a word to denote his doings! In each providence, great or small, private or public, personal, or family, or social, or national, or universal; in mercies or in judgments; in wars, acts of terrorism; famines, pestilences, shipwrecks, airplane crashes; in the seasons, in the sunshine, in the storm; in all, Christ is lying in wait for sinners; out of them comes his loving voice.


Thus Christ lies in wait for sinners: not merely waits in his house to receive them, but watches for them, looks out for them, goes out in quest of them. The expression is beautifully applicable to the three cases in the parables which follow. The Shepherd is looking out and going out for his sheep; the woman with her lighted candle is going through every room, turning over all the lumber, and looking into every nook, for her piece of silver; and the father is watching at the door for his wandering son.”                                 Horatius Bonar


This man lieth in wait for sinners." Yes; in his work of saving, Christ is aggressive. He goes out in order to find them. He is ever on the outlook. He does not merely sit above on his throne, willing to receive the applications of those who come. He comes down amongst us. He goes to and fro in the earth; He walks up and down in it. His daily, hourly work is the pursuit of sinners. We are compassed about with infinite, indescribable love. For the lost, there is the compassionate love; for the saved, there is the complacent love. We cannot escape it.


This pursuit of love, this pursuit of sinners is always effectual. It follows us, pursues us, cries after us, surrounds us! And it shall have its object. Someone said, “Why the love of an almighty heart should ever be ineffectual is a mystery beyond our power to solve”. Were it true, it would be a mystery indeed. But it is not true. The love of our omnipotent Savior’s heart is effectual, irresistible love. ― Every sinner pursued by him shall be had by him (Ps. 23:6).


If this man receiveth sinners, poor, broken, helpless, doomed, damned, sin-sick sinners, what a sweet word this is for me!


II.                Here is a most reasonable conclusion that I draw from the fact that “This man receiveth sinners.” ― Surely, then, he will receive me.


Let me now do what I can (Spirit of God, speak through this worthless, rusty, empty pipe, for Christ’s sake to the hearts of needy sinners!) encourage you to come to my Savior, to receive his great atonement, and to be clothed with all his righteousness.


I am talking to you who are real, sure enough, bona fide, actual sinners; not to you complimentary sinners, not you who merely say you are sinners to pacify your own consciences. I am talking to you who know your lost, ruined, hopeless condition, to you who are hiding in the highways and hedges of despair. To you I am sent, as the servant of my Master, to compel you to come in that his house may be full. You are now frankly and freely bidden to come to Jesus Christ, and to be saved by him. Come, poor sinner, come.


A.   Come, because he has said he will receive you.


I know your fears. I once had the same. I thought, like you, “I cannot come. I am too vile, to black, too corrupt. He will not receive me. He will not hear my prayer. He will never take me into his house. He will never spread over me the banner of his love.”


Then, I heard his sweet voice, "Him that cometh I will in nowise cast out." Do you imagine that the eternal God is a liar? Would he tell you he will receive you, and yet not do so? Would he say, "My fatlings are killed, come ye to the supper," and yet shut the door in your face? No, never. Be assured, trembling soul, he cannot, he will not cast you out. Come, then, he has declared, “Him that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out.


B.   Come to Christ because you know you need him, because you know you must have him.


Poor sinner! If you know your need of a Savior, the Savior made you know it. If desire Christ, Christ gave you that desire. If you long for him, it is he who put the longing in your soul. If he has opened your wounded heart, it is that he may bind it up. If he has slain you, it is that he may give you life. Come, then, come now to the throne of grace, and take with you words of repentance.


(Hosea 6:1-3)  "Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. {2} After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. {3} Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth."


(Hosea 14:1-2)  "O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. {2} Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips."


Now, hear what he says. ―


(Hosea 14:4)  "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him."


C.   Let me give you another reason to come to Christ. My Master commands me, “Compel them to come.” That’s my aim. I am sure "this man receiveth sinners," because he has received many, many, before you.


What multitudes there are who have entered in at Mercy’s Door! How many weary, heavy-laden sinners have called there for rest! How many famished souls have sought bread there! Not one was ever turned away.


"No sinner was ever empty sent back,

Who came seeking mercy for Jesus' sake."


IF you are turned away, you will be the first; and that shall not be! Do you think God will forfeit his good name, by turning you away? Mercy's gate has been open night and day, ever since man sinned. It will not be shut in your face. The Master of the house declares, "Him that cometh I will in nowise cast out." He did not turn away…

·       Wicked Manasseh.

·       The wild Gadarene.

·       Mary Magdalene.

·       The Syrophonecian woman.

·       The Samaritan Harlot

·       The Woman Taken in Adultery

·       The barbarian Maltese chief.

·       John Bunyan.

·       John Newton.

·       Don Fortner.


D.  I know that he will receive every sinner who comes to him, because he calls sinners to himself.


I speak to you now as his ambassador. It is Christ himself who calls sinners. I am only his messenger (2 Cor. 5:20-6:2).


(2 Cor 5:20-21)  "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. {21} For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."


(2 Cor 6:1-2)  "We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. {2} (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)"


If the Son of God calls me and bids me come, I am sure he will not turn me away when I come. Once there was a blind man (Mark 10:46-52) sitting by the wayside begging. He heard—for he could not see—he heard the trampling of the many feet that were passing by him. He asked, “What’s going on.” Someone said, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Immediately, he cried out, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me!" At first, the Savior seemed to ignore his cry. So he cried the louder, "Thou son of David, have mercy on me!" Then, we read a remarkable thing, “Jesus stood still!” He commanded his servants to call the man,; and they said to the man, exactly what I am sent to tell you this day, “He calleth thee.” As soon as that poor, blind beggar heard those words, “He calleth thee.  Do you know what he did?

·       Do you suppose he sat there still, crying?

·       Do you imagine that he said to himself, “No, he is not calling me”?

·       Do you think he imagined he could not come because he was so poor, so blind, so helpless, so unworthy?

If you do, you are mistaken. Read the rest of the story for yourself (Mark 10:49-52).


(Mark 10:49-52)  "And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. {50} And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. {51} And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. {52} And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."


If the King of heaven says, "Come unto me," then it must be assumed that it is all right to come.


E.   Let me give you one more reason why you should not hesitate to come to my Savior. I know that this man, who is himself God our Savior, receiveth sinners because he came all the way down here to seek and find that which was lost.


(2 Cor 8:9)  "For ye kno w the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."


Illustration: The Handkerchief