And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.…
The old contempt of the sinner's Saviour lingers in the world still. In one way or other the charge is repeated, that Christianity is too lenient to the sinner, that it tends to discourage the naturally amiable and virtuous, and looks too favourably upon the vicious and disreputable, etc. How easily could we turn the tables upon these slanderers, for usually those who talk thus have but a scanty supply of morals and virtues themselves.
I. WE ADMIT THE TRUTH OF THE CHARGE. Jesus did go to be guest to a man that was a sinner, and did so not only once, but as often as He saw need. He went after the sheep which had gone astray, and He had a wonderful attraction for the disreputable classes.
1. The object of Christ, and the design of the gospel, is the saving of sinners.
2. Our Lord does actually call sinners into the fellowship of the gospel.
3. The man Christ Jesus does very readily come to be guest with a man who is a sinner, for He stands on no ceremony with sinners, but makes Himself at home with them at once.
4. Our Lord goes further, for He not only stands on no ceremony with sinners, but within a very little time He is using those very sinners who had been so unfit for any holy service — using them in His most hallowed work. Note how He makes Zaccheus to be His host.
5. Ay, and the Lord favoured Zaccheus, the sinner, by granting him that day full assurance of salvation.
II. WE DENY THE INSINUATION WHICH IS COVERTLY INTENDED BY THE CHARGE brought against our Lord. Jesus is the friend of sinners, but not the friend of sin.
1. Christ was guest with a man that was a sinner, but He never flattered a sinner yet.
2. Neither does the Lord Jesus screen sinners from that proper and wholesome rebuke which virtue must always give to vice.
3. Again, it is not true, as I have heard some say, that the gospel makes pardon seem such a very easy thing, and therefore sin is thought to be a small matter.
4. Nor, though Christ be the friend of sinners, is it true that He makes men think lightly of personal character.
5. It has been said that if we tell men that good works cannot save them, but that Jesus saves the guilty who believe in Him, we take away all motives for morality and holiness. We meet that again by a direct denial: it is not so, we supply the grandest motive possible, and only remove a vicious and feeble motive.
III. WE REJOICE IN THE VERY FACT WHICH HAS BEEN OBJECTED TO, that Jesus Christ comes to be guest with men who are sinners.
1. We rejoice in it, because it affords hope to ourselves.
2. We rejoice that it is true, because this affords us hope for all our fellow-men.
3. We rejoice that this is the fact, because when we are waiting for the Lord it cheers us up with the hope of fine recruits. I remember a sailor, who before conversion used to swear, and I warrant you he would rattle it out, volley after volley. He became converted, and when he prayed it was much in the same fashion. How he woke everybody up the first time he opened his mouth at the prayer-meeting! The conversion of a great sinner is the best medicine for a sick Church.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.