Jesus is the friend of sinners. What an amazing declaration! God, the Son of God, is our friend and has done everything possible for us to know Him as our Friend. The religious and self-righteous will never understand nor desire His friendship. But sinners, who know their need, greatly desire and delight in Jesus Christ’s friendship.
We have recorded for us the wonderful love of our Savior in the gospels. What a delight it is to look at these verses and be reminded of Jesus Christ’s love for the sinner, which is the most powerful revelation of the love of God towards mankind.
9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. 10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does you Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matthew 9:9-13
Jesus Christ perfectly displays the love of God the Father for mankind. He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus Christ called Matthew, a tax collector, one of the most despised people of all Israel because of his vocation, and then Jesus ate with more tax collectors and other sinners. What was His response to the criticism levied against Him by the Pharisees because of this audacious neglect of proper religious protocol? He declared without apology that He came for the sinner, to bring them to repentance and reconcile them to God. Our disease of sin has separated us from God and Jesus Christ has taken the full holy judgment due us when He died upon the cross for our sins so that we can be forgiven, and He demonstrated with power that He is the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead, and that He alone has the authority to give eternal life to whomever He pleases. Jesus is the friend of sinners! What should the sinner’s response be to Jesus Christ? I love the verses out of Matthew chapter eight.
1 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. 2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, I You are willing, you can make me clean.” 3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matthew 8:1-3
Just like the leper who was untouchable because of his physical defilement, we too, as sinners, can come to Jesus supplicating Him to make us clean from our sin. He is willing! Just as He confirmed to the leper His willingness to cleanse him of his leprosy, so too our Savior makes it clear throughout the Scriptures that He is willing to declare the sinner cleansed of the defilement of sin, when the sinner repents of his/her sin and puts his/her faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior and Lord. He has taken care of our greatest need, our need to be forgiven for our sins that we may be reconciled to God the Father. He died upon the cross for our forgiveness and rose from the dead for our justification. Jesus is the friend of sinners!
1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. 2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” 3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 “But that you may know that the Son of Man as power on earth to forgive sins”-then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house. Matthew 9:1-7
Jesus first forgave the paralytic, and then to confirm His power to forgive sins, He healed the paralytic merely by commanding him to arise, take up his bed and go to his house. What an amazing display of God’s glorious mercy, grace and love. The ones who questioned Him in their hearts were the scribes, the keepers of the Scripture. They didn’t even recognize the One Whom the Scriptures reveal, nor did they know that they too were sinners and needed forgiveness. Jesus Christ demonstrated His power to forgive sins as God in this passage, first by forgiving the paralytic, then by knowing what the scribes were thinking in their hearts, and finally by healing the paralytic. He knows our hearts, and those who truly see their sin, believe what the Scriptures say about the Savior, and desire their sins to be forgiven, He will not turn away. Jesus is the friend of sinners!
In both of the gospels of Matthew and Luke the general accusation given against Jesus Christ is that He is a friend of tax collectors and sinners. Immediately after this revelation in the gospel of Luke, Jesus again demonstrates His love for sinners.
34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 “But wisdom is justified by all her children.” 36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet sine the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:34-48
The religious elites unaware of their own wickedness and oblivious to the mercy of God kept their distance from “sinners”, never realizing they too needed God’s forgiveness for their sins. Jesus though came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to save sinners, because that is the good pleasure of God the Father. Jesus Christ demonstrated His love for sinners by accepting the love and worship of this woman who was a sinner and then forgiving her. He also demonstrated His love towards those blinded by their religious labors, trusting in their own works to justify themselves before Holy God, by revealing the truth to them about God and His desire for all to be saved. Jesus is the friend of sinners!
There are many passages throughout the New Testament books that attest to this love of God for the sinner demonstrated to us through His Son Jesus Christ. I would like to focus on verses that were written by the apostle John as God gave him revelation by His Holy Spirit.
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:9-15
14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:14-21
When any sinner, by God’s gracious mercy, repents of their sin and places their faith in Jesus Christ, their sins are forgiven and they are reconciled to God Almighty. No longer are they under the bondage of sin, Satan, and sure damnation. They are forgiven and given eternal life and can live for God’s glory as they trust and obey Him. All because of the love of God the Father who sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins and rise again from the dead so that we can walk in newness of life. When we see Jesus, the friend of sinners, we see the Father and can know that our sins are forgiven and we are the beloved of God, and all those who have like precious faith as we have are our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. We have a heavenly godly family with God our Father watching over us, Jesus Christ interceding for us, and the Holy Spirit indwelling us. All because Jesus is the friend of sinners!