By Todd Pekel


The accusation that 'this man receiveth sinners' was, in fact, the greatest compliment paid Jesus when the chief priests were looking for at least two witnesses to condemn our Lord to death. It should be noted that they had great difficulty finding the witnesses. In fact, they were unable to find two witnesses whose stories corroborated each other’s. This was a dilemma because the law stated specifically that at least two witnesses were needed for someone accused to be put to death. One witness was not enough.

Deuteronomy 17:6:
At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

With this in mind, let us examine the events that led up to our Lord’s crucifixion. In fact, it wasn’t the accusations that led to his death, but rather it was the very truth of who he was and is that led him to the cross.

Mark 14:55-60:
And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.
56 For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.
57 And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying,
58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.
59 But neither so did their witness agree together.
60 And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?

The so-called witnesses themselves already answered this last question, as up to this point “neither ... did their witness agree together.” The very witnesses the chief priest had assembled to condemn our Lord had in fact done the very opposite. Because they were unable to agree, their “witness” according to the law, exonerated our Lord. That is, their testimony actually proved his innocence.

vv. 61-64:
But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?
62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
63 Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses?
64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.

Our Lord was condemned for telling the truth! He is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed. This sham of a trial was now over and our Lord was going to the cross for revealing the truth of who he is. What a great irony it is to see that there was a time when our Lord’s accusers actually told the greatest of truths with their words of accusation. Behold the accusation!

Luke 15:2:
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Glory to God! Shout it from the mountaintops. This man receiveth sinners! Oh Christian, don’t you see it? The one accusation against our Lord that was not fabricated or falsified, this murmuring of the Pharisees and scribes, is in fact the greatest of truths. This man receiveth sinners. Consider the following.

Luke 7:36-38:
And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

Unlike the Pharisee, this woman greatly honored and loved our Lord.

v. 39:
Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

Like this Pharisee, some men reject sinners. Our Lord, however, receives sinners.

vv. 40-48:
And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.

Oh brothers and sisters, may we be like this unnamed woman and not like the Pharisee. May we truly know the one who forgives sins. He it is that those sitting at dinner didn’t know. Notice their response.

v. 49:
And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?

This woman with the alabaster box of ointment had her sins forgiven by the one who forgives sins. She knew the one that those sitting at dinner didn’t know. What a true blessing it is to know him, the one who receives sinners and forgives sins.

1 John 1:8-9:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This is he who came into the world “to save sinners.”

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.

This is the man who tells those whose sins are forgiven, whether it be a sinner repenting unto Salvation and eternal life, or a Christian unto restored fellowship, to “go in peace.”

Luke 7:50:
And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

“Thy faith hath saved thee,” said the one who forgives sins. “Go in peace.” Thanks to him, all those that know our Lord Jesus Christ, can do just that.

Romans 5:1:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Thank God that the accusation leveled at him is as true today as when it was first murmured by the Pharisees. Our Lord Jesus Christ hasn’t changed one bit.

Hebrews 13:8:
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

This man receiveth sinners! Amen and Amen.



From the August 2000 issue of The Vine & Branches