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“Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to him to hear him” (Luke 15:1). The most depraved and despised classes of society formed an inner ring of hearers around our Lord. I gather from this that he was the most approachable person, that he welcomed human confidence and was willing that men should commune with him.
Eastern monarchs affected great seclusion and were likely to surround themselves with impassible barriers of state. It was very difficult for even their most loyal subjects to approach them. You remember the case of Esther, who, even though the monarch was her husband, still risked her life when she presented herself before King Ahasuerus, for there was a commandment that no one should come before the king unless they were called, at peril of their lives. It is not so with the King of kings. His court is far more splendid; his person is far more approachable, but you may draw near to him at all times without hindrance. He has set no men-at-arms around his palace gate. The door of his house of mercy is wide open. Over the lintel of his palace gate is written, “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt 7:8)
Even in our own day, great men are not easily approached. There are so many back stairs to be climbed before you can reach the official who might help you, so many servants to be passed by, that it is very difficult to achieve your objective. The good men may be easy-going enough themselves, but they remind us of the old Russian fable of the hospitable house-holder in a village who was willing to help all the poor who came to his door, but who kept so many big dogs loose in his yard that nobody was able to get to the threshold, and therefore his personal friendliness was of no use to anyone. It is not so with our Master.
Though the Lord Jesus Christ is greater than the greatest and higher than the highest, he has been pleased to put out of the way everything which might keep the sinner from entering into his halls of gracious entertainment. From his lips, we hear no threats against intrusion, but hundreds of invitations to enter into the dearest intimacy. Jesus is to be approached not every now and then, but at all times, and not by some favored few, but by all in whose hearts his Holy Spirit has kindled the desire to enter into his secret presence.
The philosophical teachers of our Lord’s day affected very great seclusion. They considered their teachings to be so profound that they were not to be uttered in the hearing of the common multitude. “Far hence, you profane,” was their scornful motto. They stood on a lofty pillar of their fancied self-conceit and occasionally dropped down a stray thought upon the common herd beneath, but they did not condescend to talk familiarly with them, considering it a dishonor to their philosophy to communicate it to the multitude. One of the greatest philosophers wrote over his door, “Let no one who is ignorant of geometry enter here.” But our Lord, compared with whom all wise men are fools—who is, in fact, the wisdom of God—never drove away a sinner because of his ignorance, never refused a seeker because he was not yet initiated and had not taken the previous steps in the ladder of learning, and never permitted any thirsty spirit to be chased away from the crystal spring of divine truth. His every word was a diamond, and his lips dropped pearls, but he was never more at home than when speaking to the common people and teaching them about the kingdom of God.
Our Lord Jesus is said to be the Mediator between God and man. The office of mediator implies at once that he should be approachable. A mediator is not a mediator for one side—he must be close to both the parties between whom he mediates. If Jesus Christ is to be a perfect mediator between God and man, he must be able to come so near to God that God shall call him his fellow, and then he must approach man so closely that he shall not be ashamed to call him brother. This is precisely the case with our Lord.
Think about this, you who are afraid of Jesus. He is a mediator, and as a mediator, you may come to him. Jacob’s ladder reached from earth to heaven, but if he had cut away half a dozen of the bottom rungs, what use would the ladder have been? Who could climb up it to the hill of the Lord? Jesus Christ is the great conjunction between earth and heaven, but if he will not touch the poor mortal man who comes to him, then of what use is he to the sons of men? You do need a mediator between your soul and God; you must not think of coming to God without a mediator, but you do not want any mediator between yourselves and Christ. There is a necessary qualification for coming to God—you must not come to God without a perfect righteousness; but you may come to Jesus without any qualification, and without any righteousness, because as Mediator he has in himself all the righteousness and fitness that you require, and is ready to bestow them upon you. You may come boldly to him right now; he waits to reconcile you to God by his blood.
Another of Christ’s offices is that of Priest. That word “priest” has come to smell very badly nowadays, but it is a very sweet word as we find it in Holy Scripture. The word “priest” does not mean a flamboyantly dressed pretender, who stands apart from other worshippers, two steps higher than the rest of the people, and professes to have the power to dispense pardon for human sin. The true priest was truly the brother of all the people. There was no man in the whole camp of Israel so brotherly as Aaron. In fact, Aaron and the priests who succeeded him were so much the first points of contact with men, on God’s behalf, that when a leper became too unclean for anybody else to approach, the last man who touched him was the priest. The house might be leprous, but the priest went into it; the man might be leprous, but he talked with him and examined him; and if afterward that diseased man was cured, the first person who touched him must be a priest. “Go, show yourself to the priest,” was the command to every recovering leper; and until the priest had entered into fellowship with him, and had given him a certificate of health, he could not be received into the Jewish camp.
The priest was the true brother of the people, chosen from among themselves, at all times to be approached; living in their midst, in the very center of the camp, ready to make intercession for the sinful and the sorrowful. Surely, you will never doubt that if Jesus perfectly sustains the office of priest, as he certainly does, he must be the most approachable of beings; approachable by the poor sinner, who has given himself up to despair, whom only a sacrifice can save; approachable by the foul harlot who is put outside the camp, whom only the blood can cleanse; approachable by the miserable thief who has to suffer the punishment of his crimes, whom only the great High Priest can absolve. No other man may care to touch you, O trembling outcast, but Jesus will. You may be separated from all of humankind, justly and righteously, by your iniquities, but you are not separated from that great Friend of sinners who at this very time is willing that publicans and sinners should draw near to him.
As a third office, let me mention that the Lord Jesus is our Savior; but I do not see how he can be a Savior unless he can be approached by those who need to be saved. The priest and the Levite passed by on the other side when the bleeding man lay on the road to Jericho; they were not saviors, therefore, and could not be, but he was the savior who came where the man was, stooped over him, and took wine and oil and poured them into the gaping fissures of his wounds, and lifted him up with tender love and set him on his own beast, and led him to the inn. He was the true savior; and, O sinner, Jesus Christ will come just where you are, and your wounds of sin, even though they are putrid, will not drive him away from you. His love shall overcome the nauseating offensiveness of your iniquity, for he is able and willing to save those who are like you. I might mention many other offices of Christ, but these three are sufficient. Certainly, if the Spirit blesses them, you will be led to see that Jesus is not hard to reach.
by C. H. Spurgeon
Fight the Fine Fight, Keep the Faith or Your Faith Will Be Shipwrecked, and You Will Be Handed Over to Satan
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