From the Pulpit: Jesus: friend of sinners
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is talking to some religious people and he begins to point out their spiritual immaturity, their hypocrisy. These were the most religious people of their time, and perhaps the most religious people of any time. The Pharisees of ancient Israel rigorously followed the legal requirements of the law…they focused on outward living and they were good at it. In Luke 7, Jesus is talking to them and he knows exactly what they think of him. They don’t understand him at all!
In Luke 7:34, Jesus says to them: “For the Son of Man has come eating and drinking and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” What is amazing is that Jesus (a well-known Rabbi by this time) doesn’t deny it! Jesus embraces this! He sees himself as a friend of sinners! In Luke 19:10, Jesus says: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Wow! Jesus (the well-known holy man in ancient Israel) was not turned off by sinful people, but rather was a friend to sinners. He came seeking them! He came to save them!
In the time of Christ, tax-collectors were hated by all! They were considered traitors of Israel. They were looked down and mentioned in the same breath with prostitutes and criminals. They worked for the Romans by collecting taxes and they were known to have become rich by collecting exorbitant taxes from their fellow countrymen. Nobody liked them! But Jesus is a friend of sinners! Matthew 9:10-13 describes how Jesus thought: 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus is a friend of sinners! He loved them!
This is Good News! If you see yourself as a sinner, not (on your own) capable of righteousness, the fact that Jesus is friend of sinners is Great News! Jesus came to call sinners to salvation and to forgiveness! He came to call sinners to have a relationship with God. If you see yourself as needing forgiveness… If you see yourself as needing to be rescued… If you see yourself as needing God to be gracious to you… Jesus is a friend of Sinners! The Bible tells us that Jesus came to rescue sinners and to bring them into a right relationship with God!
Believe in Him! Trust that Jesus lived the perfect life in your place! Trust that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin! Trust that Jesus rose from the dead and is the one and only Savior for sinners! If you put your faith in Jesus, know this: He is friend of sinners!