THIS MAN RECEIVETH SINNERS
Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
How very thankful we are to sing, “Christ receiveth sinful men; Even me with all my sin.” But to these spiteful, religious people, it was a terrible pollution to be involved with sinners. There is a vast difference between the attitude of Christ regarding sinners and the Jewish leaders attitude concerning them. And this forms the basis for the three parables which the Lord brings out in this chapter. For he speaks of the character traits of three different kinds of lost sinners, and just how the Lord would relate to them.
It has been well noted that the difference between the Pharisees relation to sinners, and that of Christ’s, is that acceptance with the Pharisees came at the end of their dealings. For the sinner was to first, be penitent and endure whatever punishments their interpretation of the law exacted upon him before acceptance was given. And this mind set is still the rule of all ‘works’ salvation today! But with the Lord acceptance came at the very beginning of his dealings with all sinners. For he first quickened them to life and then would state, “Go and sin no more.” In his kingdom it is, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:5). Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
If the Pharisees had been dealing with Lazarus, dead in the tomb, they would have required him to quit stinking, unwrap his own self, and come out of the tomb before they would have accepted him. But the Lord’s voice, the enunciation of the Word, sent forth the enabling command, making him, at that moment to be accepted in the Beloved! (Ephesians 1:6). You see, dear ones, no sinner ever wanted a new heart until he already had one!
For it is Christ’s finished work on the cross, applied with the gift of faith by the Holy Spirit which raises the sinner, dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), into newness of life! Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Let us consider the characters of sinners as we look at the three lost subjects of the parables of our chapter. First there is the lost sheep. He pictures the proneness of sinners to go astray. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Then the lost coin (vs 8 – 10), reveals the lost sinner as a lost treasure which has no awareness of its condition. The sinner is spiritually dead. As has already been stated, he is dead in trespasses and sins. He has no awareness of his dangerous condition. The Apostle Paul clearly stated that he did not know of his inner lust, even as a highly educated Pharisee, until the law was made spiritual to him in revealing his covetousness. Romans 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. 7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
Then there is the lost son in verses 11 through 32. He presents the sinner that is willfully indifferent and alienated from God. We can see glimpses of him also in the life and conversion of the Apostle Paul. Acts 26:9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. But no matter the condition and circumstances of their lost conditions, the Lord reveals that he is willing and able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Heb. 7:25).
In the accounts of the lost sheep and coin, he reveals his seeking love. John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. This is the only time the sinner can seek the Lord. For then it is that he is willing to be found. Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Then in that of the lost son, he reveals his receiving love. For although the son rehearses his words that he intends to speak to his father, there is not one single word of any ‘condition’ by which he may be received. Legalistic religion has a list of their requirements for the reception of the sinner. But God receives them as they are, imparting free and sovereign grace into their hearts. And this had already been done when the son came to himself (v. 17), back at the hog pen.
Some of this attitude is reflected in the words of Joseph as he received those brothers who had sold him into slavery, but now required bread, as did this prodigal son. Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
But the thing which all three have in common is that they all end in heavenly merriment! (See verses 7, 10, 32). This is the joy that shall “likewise” be in heaven, for it is the new song that the redeemed sing on into eternity! Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
And as we see the shepherd rejoicing with the found sheep upon his shoulder, even so we find him joining in the singing for the deliverance! Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
It is the joyful sound of redemption as it realizes the great deliverance Christ has just provided them! Exodus 15:1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. 2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Also all three were owned, even when lost! It is clear from the Son of God’s prayer to the Father, as recorded in John 17, that all those for whom redemption was provided by the Son, were given him by the Father. And the Father had known them in his eternal love. John 17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. This is also clearly seen in another prayer of the Son’s as recorded in Luke 10:20-22. And the Apostle Paul states, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Ephesians 1:3,4). But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13,14).
Remember, dear Reader, it was the shepherd who lost the sheep! And one cannot lose that which he does not first possess. And just why did God determine this loss to be good? Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Just as the sparkling diamond is best displayed on the backdrop of black velvet, even so grace is seen to ‘sparkle’ and ‘abound’ upon the backdrop of sin! That’s the reason that the Lord would first have darkness upon the face of the deep before he said, “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:2,3).
The Pharisees view the sinner only in their lost and undone condition. Therefore they want no part with him. But the Lord viewed them through the eyes of a seeking shepherd, a diligently searching woman, and as a loving, receiving father! The height of the shepherd’s joy is caused by the depth of lack he felt while the sheep was loss! For he states, I have found my sheep – which was lost. It was only the lost sheep in which he desired the fellowship of rejoicing! It was, “my sheep,” – which one? The one which was lost! Not the 99 who were not lost.
And so it is with the woman who states, I have found the piece – which I had lost. This brings that which was lost into a personal knowledge of the one who found him! Those, like the religiously trained Pharisees, who never have awareness of being lost sinners, never know the personal fellowship with the Savior! It is only those who know their sin to be great that have a great Savior! With most of todays religionists, a two-for-a-nickel Jesus will do just fine! Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Also notice that before the son ever came to himself in the hog pen, the father is fattening the calf! For in verse 23 of this chapter his words are, bring hither the fatted calf. That is spoken in past tense! The calf is already fatted! O my soul! The provision was already there before the elect of God fell into sin! Revelation 13:8 speaks of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And the Lord Jesus states concerning his cross, in John 12:27, Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. And the apostle states by the Holy Spirit that this is worthy of everyone to accept! 1 Timothy 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 robe is already there! It is the correct size! Revelation 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. The ring and shoes are ready, and are the correct size. The sinner is now, sealed with the king’s ring. (Ester 3:12). In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13). And being shod, he can now walk, even as he walked. (1 John 2:6). His gospel call is sent forth as all is ready! Luke 14:17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
But those who consider themselves “just persons,” (Luke 15:7), will only have the present physical things as blessings from the father’s house. Luke 15:31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. The rich man in hell only had physical “good things,” while Lazarus enjoyed the presence of God!
Pastor Gene Breed, September 24, 2014