2009-08-15 - It Makes All the Difference
Luke 15:2, "And both the Pharisees and scribes began to grumble, saying, `This man receives sinners and eats with them.'"
There is a nearness to God that we experience in this life that didn't always exist. Closeness to God was not something that I could have written about before Christ came because God was distant to the Israelites. When God appeared to Moses in the desert He told Moses to remove his shoes because nearness to God was something foreign (Exodus 3:5). When God came near on Mount Sinai the people were not allowed to get close or the result was death. This was true even for the animals. Even the Jewish Temple was designed to keep in mind the distance between God and His people. Most of the people did not even enter the outer court of the Temple. The inner court only priests could enter, and just once a year only one person, the High Priest, could enter the holy of holies. God was not close to His people as He is today. He seemed to be telling the Old Testament saints that they should not come near to Him. They were sinners and sin is loathsome to God. God made the people feel the immensity of the separation that existed between Himself and impure sinners.
Jesus Christ makes all this different. Where as before it seemed as if God was saying to His people, "Go away," today, through Jesus Christ, God is saying, "Draw close very close to Me." In the place of distance we have nearness. The blood of Christ has shattered the separation that was between sinners and a holy God. His atonement for sin makes all the difference. Jesus gives us closeness to God. We have something that saints of old could only long for. How are we taking advantage of these blessings? We have the Spirit of God living in us. We have free access to God in prayer. We have forgiveness of sin, peace with God, and a bright glorious future with God for eternity. And then there is the change that is yet to come. The Lord has brought us communion with the Father by forgiving our sins, but one day, one day soon, we will see God face-to-face. We will actually be in His presence. The closeness we have today is but a taste of what is to come.
It was the observation of the Pharisees that Jesus received sinners and ate with them, Luke 15:2. The Pharisees meant it as scorn upon Jesus, but we see it as our great hope. We are sinners and Jesus comes to us, takes away our sins and feasts with us. Jesus has an open door of mercy for sinners and a table spread for them as well. We are able through His atonement to draw near, commune with Him, and fellowship as friends. If you rest in Christ alone for all your hope this is true for you. You may draw near to God right now. You may know His love. If you do not yet trust in Christ then Luke 15:2 is just as true today and you may grasp it. Jesus receives sinners, and you may know His love and forgiveness today. It is not that Jesus says He receives everyone named Henry or Helen, no, Jesus receives sinners (all sinners that come to Him) and that leaves no one out. It is a wonderful promise for all us sinners. Jesus is willing that we would come to Him and be with Him, not just now, but forever.
Soli Deo Gloria,