God Receives Sinners? (from Luke 15, by Chuck Smith)
25 Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ 28 But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ “
Today’s Devotion by Pastor Chuck Smith
Now, here is the, really, the real point of the parable. Though it may teach many things, the parable was intended against the Pharisees. All three actually did, but He is building up. In each of the parables, there is something lost that is found and the result of finding that which was lost was rejoicing, happiness. Jesus receives sinners. That shouldn’t be said in a derogatory sense. That should be said in a rejoicing sense. Jesus receives sinners! There is hope, friend. Rejoice! Jesus receives sinners. And yet, they were not saying it with that inflection, but they were saying it in a derogatory sense. “He receives sinners and eats with them.” So as the natural reaction to finding something that is lost should be rejoicing, the Pharisees are angry. They are condemning. They are sitting back and judging. So the story was given.
In the third story, Jesus adds the older brother and his attitude towards the rejoicing, because the father receives sinners. And here he is out there sulking, angry and upset. He is not going to join in. “You have never done anything like this for me.” And his sulking attitude, because the father received the sinner. “He went out and spent everything he had on prostitutes. He is a sinner. Yet, you have a big party because he comes home.” This was the same attitude that the Pharisees were expressing.
To me it is interesting that the father said,
Son, you are ever with me, and all that I have is yours (Luk 15:31).
You see, the younger son had taken his inheritance, so that everything that was left belonged to the older son. “All that I have is yours.”
It was necessary that we should have this party, and be glad: for this your brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found (Luk 15:32).
Because the Lord receives sinners and eats with them, the lost is found. Jesus said, “I have come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
So we so often hear marvelous sermons preached from the parable of the prodigal son, but rarely do we ever hear a message that really gives the true meaning of the parable, or the real reason for the parable. The reason wasn’t just to show the father receiving with joy a son that was lost, but the parable was used to show the Pharisees how wrong was their condemnation of Him when they said, “He receives sinners and eats with them.” They should have been rejoicing over it, rather than griping over it.
May God help us that we will not have a pharasaical attitude towards the work of God in receiving sinners, because maybe He is receiving them at some other church in the county rather than here. It doesn’t matter where He receives them. Let us rejoice that He is receiving them. Let us pray that God will send a great spiritual wakening throughout the county in every church. Let us not be so shortsighted and narrow-minded that we are only praying for God’s blessing upon Calvary Chapel, because God knows we can’t house them all. But let us begin to really pray that God will revive His church throughout this entire county and that sinners would be brought to Christ, that the Lord might receive sinners anywhere and everywhere, that there might be revival in the Baptist church and the Methodist church, the Lutheran church and the Presbyterian church. Let us just pray that God might just be able to receive sinners in all of these churches, that there would be a real move of God’s Spirit throughout the whole area.
If we hear of revival somewhere, let us not go and try to find the faults that may exist in their doctrines or positions. “Well, Lord, they didn’t follow us so we told them not to do it.” Jesus said, “You should not have done that. If they are out there doing it in My name, they can’t very well be against us. Don’t stop them.” God deliver us from narrow sectarianism, from an attitude of the Pharisee, but to the same heart of Jesus. Let us rejoice that the Lord receives sinners and eats with them.
by Pastor Chuck Smith from his c2000 series.
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Image Credit: The brother of the prodigal son.