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Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?  Matthew 9:11 NASB

Have you ever received a one-two punch from God?  I have.  He packs quite a wallop when needed!

The first time I ever heard “Jesus Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns, I could hardly breathe.  I suddenly had the heavy realization that we Christians often become the stumbling blocks rather than the stepping stones to Jesus.

The song caused me to think about Jesus’ interactions with sinners and the religious leaders of His day. Here are few examples:

Jesus willingly dined with sinners.  When asked about this practice by the Pharisees, His answer was simple: 

Only the sick need a physician.  (Matthew 9:9-12)

Jesus made a straight forward statement to the scribes & Pharisees who had dragged a woman caught in adultery to the center of the temple court. 

He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.  (John 8:3-11)

When Peter sinned by denying Christ three times at the crucifixion, Jesus restored relationship with him in John 21.  Peter denied Christ three times, and Christ asked Peter three times,

Do you love Me?

Zaccheus was a deceitful tax collector who had defrauded many people.  But as Jesus passed by the Sycamore tree where he was perched to get a good look at the Master, he was called down to a dinner that would change his life!  (Luke 19:1-10) 

Of course, the Pharisees had something to say about Jesus eating with a crooked tax collector, but that is ok, because Jesus knew His mission –

to seek and to save that which was lost.  (Luke 19:10)

Now don’t get the wrong impression about Jesus.

Friend of sinners – YES!  Tolerant of sin – NO!

For example, when Zaccheus received Jesus gladly, he restored fourfold what he had defrauded people.  Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to “Go and sin no more”.

Notice the Master’s approach to people.  It was always to win the person, not to win the argument. The only people I find Jesus truly reprimanding and condemning were the pious, elite, “religious” leaders.

I am so thankful that I can find relationship in Christ and not a list of religious do’s and don’ts.  Get the relationship part right, and the do’s and don’ts will follow.

Jesus’ approach to people was simplistic.  It seems to me that He looked for ways to connect and serve the person so that a natural conversation would occur.  That’s when He pierced people’s hearts with His GRACE and got to the source of the problem – sin.

Yep – friend of sinners – that’s my Jesus!

We can’t ignore the lost and win them to Christ simultaneously.  Ponder this statement today and record your thoughts in your journal.

Do you see any areas which demand a change of behavior?  How will you respond to this today?

Here is a link to the song, Jesus Friend of Sinners, by Casting Crowns.

Dear Precious Lord, thank You so much for opening our eyes to see how You want us to relate to others.  Thank You for opening our ears to hear Your message.  Continue to break our hearts for what breaks Yours, and guide us to the tasks which You have called us to, empowering us to love as You DO.  In Your precious name, Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

© 2017 by Shelly Hollis.  All rights reserved.

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