Summary: God’s conditions of acceptance are different from man’s.
You’re Welcome At This Table
Woodlawn Baptist Church
March 27, 2005
Turn with me to Luke 15:1-2. It is good to be in the Lord’s house with you all on this Easter morning. I want to welcome our guests again and thank you for being with us today. I hope and pray that your time with us will be a blessing to you, and more importantly, that our time together will be a blessing to God. We have no greater privilege than to join together in the worship and praise of our heavenly Father, and today in light of the resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ we have even greater reason to praise Him. If there were no resurrection from the dead, then we can shut all this down and go home, but we believe that God did raise Jesus up, and because of that belief we can rejoice today knowing that just as God raised up Jesus the firstborn, even so will He also raise up those who have trusted Him at the last day when the trump of God shall sound!
Join me as we turn our hearts and minds to His Word. I want to encourage you to follow along in your notes, and to ask God right now to use today’s message to minister to your heart’s greatest needs. In Luke 15:1-2, we read these words,
“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.”
The verses I have just read are only a small portion of a lengthy conversation Jesus was having with the two groups mentioned: there were the Pharisees and scribes, and then there were the publicans and the sinners. The Pharisees and scribes were the religious leaders of the day. They were the teachers and rulers of the Jewish synagogues. They were the religious watchdogs of their day, making sure that everyone was living according to God’s laws and according to their interpretations of those laws. The scribes were the men who spent their days handwriting copies of the Old Testament. They were the Xerox machines of their day, and they would have known the Scriptures forward and back. The publicans and the sinners on the other hand were men and women of ill-repute. They were not respected in their communities as moral people, and most often were treated with contempt by those in religious circles.
Now in Luke 14, Jesus got invited to eat in the home of one of the chief Pharisees, but when He got there He started stirring things up. It was a Sabbath day, so He healed a man in front of the Pharisee and his friends to provoke them. Was it wrong to help someone on the Sabbath? Then he pointed out the way they were all working to sit in the best seats at the table. He pointed at a man who was sitting close to the head of the table and told him that he’d have been better off had he started down low. He was going to look pretty foolish when someone more important than him came along and he had to move down. It was better to start low and get moved up.
Jesus then began to press the Pharisee who had invited him about the way he invited his friends to eat with him. Why had he invited all these men? To impress someone? To prove something? If he really wanted to impress someone, then go out and invite the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind. In other words, why not do something that benefits those in need rather than just inviting people to move up the social ladder?
The more time Jesus spent in the presence of the Pharisees, the more they made Him sick. He had been invited to come and eat with them, but He got up and left, and walked across town to where the publicans and prostitutes and sinners were eating and joined them for lunch. Some of the Pharisees followed Him, which leads us to what we read a while ago,
“This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
I want to tell you this morning that I’m not sure there is a more wonderful statement about Jesus in all the Bible than this one! They had no idea of the truth of their statement. God does receive sinners! God wants to commune with them, and that desire has never and will never change! Today I am talking about acceptance, and more specifically, I want you to know that God wants to accept you, to receive you and commune with you the way He did in this passage, because His love for you is immense and unfailing.