Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receives sinners, and eats with them. Luke 15:1, 2.
NEVER was there a tongue like Christ’s—so learned, so eloquent, and so skilled. “Never man spoke like this man.” Greece and Rome, in their “high and palmy state,” never exhibited such philosophy as He taught, such erudition as He displayed, or such eloquence as He breathed. Had He so chosen it, He could have placed Himself al the head of a school of His own, and with a beck might have allured to His feet all the poets and the philosophers of His day, proud to own Him as their Master. But no! the wisdom and the eloquence of this world possessed no charm for Jesus. He drew the learning and the melting power with which He spoke from a higher, even a heavenly, source. His was Divine philosophy; His was the eloquence of God! “The Lord Jehovah has given me the tongue of the learned.”
And to whom did He consecrate this learning, this wisdom, and this eloquence? To the very objects whom the proud philosophers and the doctors of His day despised and neglected—even the weary. What a field was here for the exercise of His skill, and for the play of His benevolence! How fully would he demonstrate that He truly possessed the “tongue of the learned”! If to interest the feelings of the exhausted—if to enchain the attention of the weary—if to concentrate upon one subject the powers of a mind jaded and burdened—if to awaken music from a heart whose chords were broken and unstrung, mark the loftiest reach of eloquence, then His was eloquence unsurpassed—for all this He did.
The beings whom He sought out, and drew around Him, were the burdened, the bowed, the disconsolate, the poor, the friendless, the helpless, the ignorant, the weary. He loved to lavish upon such the fullness of His benevolent heart, and to exert upon such the skill of His wonder-working power. Earth’s weary sons repaired to His out-stretched arms for shelter, and the world’s ignorant and despised clustered around His feet, to be taught and blessed. Sinners of every character, and the disconsolate of every grade, attracted by His renown, pressed upon Him from every side. “This man receives sinners,” was the character and the mission by which He was known. It was new and strange. Uttered by the lip of the proud and disdainful Pharisee, it was an epithet of reproach, and an expression of ridicule. But upon the ear of the poor and wretched outcast, the sons and daughters of sorrow, ignorance, and woe, it fell sweeter than the music of the spheres.
It passed from lip to lip, it echoed from shore to shore—”This man receives sinners.” It found its way into the abodes of misery and want; it penetrated the dungeon of the prisoner and the cell of the maniac; and it kindled a celestial light in the solitary dwelling of the widow and the orphan, the unpitied and the friendless. Thus received its accomplishment the prophecy that predicted Him as the “Plant of renown,” whom Jehovah would raise up. Thousands came, faint, weary, and sad, and sat down beneath His shadow; and thousands more since then have pressed to their wounded hearts the balsam that exuded from His bleeding body, and have been healed.