A Friend of Sinners

By Royce Frederick

When “...all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him,” the enemies of Jesus complained, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them” (Lk. 15:1-2). His enemies called Him a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19). It was like saying, “He mingles with people of low class and low character, so He must be low class, too.”

They were trying to insult Him — but it was actually a compliment! When Jesus befriended people who were considered “lower class” and outcasts, it showed the greatness of His character and mission!

It means Jesus is not arrogant and selfish. The Son of God had every right to live among the wealthy and “noble” people of the earth. But His purpose for leaving His heavenly home was to serve and save all of us, not just the “upper class” (Matt. 20:28; 2 Pet. 3:9; Mk. 16:15-16). He is not too proud to be your friend and mine (compare Heb. 2:11). He “made Himself of no reputation” and “...He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:7-8).

It means Jesus highly values you. He does not decide your value by your appearance, your possessions, or your position in life. God the Father made all things through Jesus, and that includes you (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16). You are very valuable to Him, because He made you in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27)!

It means Jesus wants to save you. He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). Our sins separate us from God (Isa. 59:2). If they are never forgiven, our sins will separate us from God forever (Jn. 5:28-29; Matt. 25:46; Rom. 6:23). To have fellowship with God, we must have our sins removed by Jesus (Rom. 3:23-26; 6:3-4, 17-18). “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13).

It means Jesus wants to be with you. He even tells Christians who have drifted away from Him, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).

It means Jesus wants you to come live with Him forever. He said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions...I go to prepare a place for you. And...I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3). Jesus wants to welcome you into His home by saying, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34).

It means Jesus wants to honor you. The abusive words and deeds of men “are not worthy to be compared” to the glories of heaven (see Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:16-5:1). Jesus is ready to give high honor to all who obey His gospel and remain faithful. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21).

Jesus truly IS a friend of sinners! That means He is your friend and mine!