One of my favourite texts in Scripture was spoken by enemies of the Saviour.
In Luke 15v2, we're told:
"The Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying,
'This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them'."
I guess the reason they affect me so much is because I know they are true. I am one of these sinners that Christ received. Oh, I know we are all sinners. Every single person born since the fall of Adam has been a sinner. Noah, that man of obedience who built the ark and preached faithfully to those around him, even though he saw no encouraging conversions; Abraham, the father of the faithful; John, the beloved disciple, who loved his Saviour so much. I know they were all sinners too.
But I was a great sinner. I knew, and was convicted of this, that I was one of the greatest sinners who'd ever lived. And what was my greatest sin?
It was my rejection of Christ - day after day after day. You see, unlike Stalin, that murderer of millions, I knew about Christ. Unlike Hitler, that murderous man who wished to wipe out God's chosen people of old, the Jews, I had grown up with the Gospel all around me. I knew the Bible was true. I knew that one day I was stand before the judgement seat of Christ and have to give an account of everything I'd ever done, said and thought. Yet still, I rejected Christ, and the life God's Word would have me lead. I rejected Him and the life of the Believer because I loved the life I had. It's a simple as that. I loved the life I was living more that the life that was promised me if I repented and came to Christ.
Christ promised me Eternal life ... yet I chose the temporary pleasures of the life I was living. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.
And so, do you wonder that Christ receiving sinners is such a wonderful truth to me? I thought I'd sinned any chance of salvation away. I thought there was no way I'd ever, ever find pardon. I thought I was too great a sinner.
Sinning against light is a terrible sin. And that was my sin.
Imagine if I had to end the story there. What despair!
But because of this text: 'He (Christ) receives sinners', that is not the end of the story, and I speak not of despair but of joy and of wonder and of praise and of thanksgiving.
Twenty-five years after that first time that He received this sinner, I am still amazed at this text. He receives sinners. He received ME!
I will never, ever stop praising my Saviour for receiving me, and eating with me. Throughout the endless ages of eternity, I will never cease wondering at what He did for ME.
Psalm 40 says:
I waited for the Lord my God,
and patiently did hear;
At length to me He did incline
my voice and cry to hear.
He took me from a fearful pit,
and from the miry clay,
And on a rock He set my feet
establishing my way.
He put a new song in my mouth,
our God to magnify:
many shall see it and shall fear,
and on the Lord rely.
What a Saviour He is!