Posted by: rcottrill | December 30, 2011

Christ Receiveth Sinful Men

Words: Erdmann Neumeister (b. May 12, 1671; d. Aug. 18, 1756)
Music: James McGranahan (b. July 4, 1840; d. July 9, 1907)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: James McGranahan sometimes used the initials “G. M. J.” as a pen name.

Christ’s kind reception of “sinners” is spoken of with a self-righteous sneer, by the Jewish scribes and Pharisees:

“Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them’” (Lk. 15:1-2).

Regarding “the tax collectors and the sinners.” The tax collectors were Jews who worked for the Roman government, and thus were seen as siding with the oppressors. Further, as long as the Romans got their “cut,” these men were allowed to demand as much money in taxes as they liked. Many were thus dishonest, and lining their own pockets with money virtually extorted from their own people.

Zacchaeus provides an example. When he trusted in Christ, he expressed his willingness to restore any money taken unfairly (Lk. 19:2, 8). There were no doubt some honest collectors (perhaps Matthew was, Matt. 9:9), but they all had a bad reputation with the Jewish leaders.

The “sinners” were not necessarily evil or wicked people. Any who did not follow all the meticulous rules laid down by the Pharisees, any whom they deemed to be ceremonially unclean, were labeled sinners. (They called Jesus Himself a sinner! Jn. 9:24.)

But the important thing to note here is that these who were seen as being of no account sought Jesus out (Matt. 9:10). They recognized their own spiritual need, and came to hear Him, and ultimately to heed Him (Mk. 2:15). In this they were the opposite of the Jewish leaders, who considered themselves spiritually superior, and rejected Christ and His message.

The word “receives,” in Luke 15:2, means to welcome and accept. But Christ could only (and can only) welcome and accept those who come to Him. That did not include the self-righteous leaders of the Jews. Though they stood in His presence, they rejected Him and were blind to their own desperate spiritual need (cf. Mk. 2:16-17).

Erdmann Neumeister’s fine hymn tells of the ready welcome sinners will receive, when they turn to the Saviour. That is “the word of grace” we have to proclaim. It is part of the gospel message.

CH-1) Sinners Jesus will receive;
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the heavenly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.

Sing it o’er and over again;
Christ receiveth sinful men;
Make the message clear and plain:
Christ receiveth sinful men.

The last two stanzas express a personal testimony. CH-3 describes the effectiveness of the work of salvation. Christ fulfilled the demands of God’s holy law and, in Him, we are “pure” and free from condemnation. CH-4 contains a lovely touch. Instead of taking the accusing tone of the Pharisees, “Listen up, all you sinners out there!” the author places himself among the sinners with, “Even me with all my sin.”

CH-4) Christ receiveth sinful men,
Even me with all my sin;
Purged from every spot and stain,
Heaven with Him I enter in.

1) What beliefs and attitudes are part of the thinking of one who thinks like a Pharisee?

2) What is the greatest need of these folk?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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