Jesus The Friend Of Sinners
JESUS, THE FRIEND OF SINNERS
“ and they say, Behold, a glutton and a wine drinker, a friend of tax collectors and [especially wicked] sinners! (Matthew 11:19)
GOOD ENOUGH WITHOUT HIM
What started out as a put-down has become a startling reality to so many over the centuries, not the least of whom the thief on the cross who turned to the Lord Jesus for mercy. We all have sinned, Scripture tell us, we have all fallen short of God’s glory, there is none of us who is right before God, who is good, who seek God, for we all like sheep have gone astray, each of us turning to our own way. Just like Frank Sinatra’s song, “I Did It My Way,” we live life on our own terms. God is but a tack-on, a go-to person if in desperate trouble, but certainly not a Friend and companion. Indeed the Bible teaches we are at war with God. We have sinned and the wages of sin is death, and not only a physical death. We have all been to enough funerals, felt the pang of a loved one no longer with us in person. But there is also a spiritual death—a permanent separation from God in Hell because of our stubborn, rebellious self-intoxicated self-righteousness that many of us display on a daily basis—also called sin! Some of us have no need of a “Savior” for we are our own “saviors,” and with such attitudes and acts we offend God.
Like the Pharisee who went up to pray and thanked God that he was not like others, many tragically believe they are “good enough without Him.” The Pharisee appealed to all he did, and didn’t do. He was so blinded by his own pride and comparing himself to others, and appealing to his own good deeds. He had convinced himself he didn’t need a Savior.
How about you? What is it that you appeal to? Maybe you choose to look around and think you’re not as bad as some. Maybe you hold out what you do—your “good deeds”— which God’s Word says are “as filthy rags.” The word used for “rags” is what was used of a menstrual cloth. How charming is that? How inviting is that? How noble are your good deeds in light of His estimation? You and I don’t look too good now, do we?
You have a scale where you weigh yourself and your “good deeds” against others and you are certain that will be enough to get you into Heaven, after all you believe you are a “good person,” even though God’s Word says, “…there is none good, no not one.” Somehow you believe that does not apply to you; it can’t apply to you. But God can’t lie—it does apply to you!
NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR HIM
But there are others, perhaps even yourself, whom you think have sinned so much that there is no hope. There is no way you could ever come to God in light of what you have done. Ashamed, deeply hopeless it seems. How could God love you? How could God ever forgive you when you cannot forgive yourself? Ah dear friend, God never tells us in His Word we are to seek forgiveness from ourselves, but to seek and receive forgiveness from Him Who alone has the power and heart to give it to you. So you live in hopelessness and despair, you’ve tried but realized you are not good enough and, if anything, you have turned away from your concept of Who God is. You believe that, like others, He could never love or accept or forgive you. So you figure, what’s the point?
But beloved, God—the God of the Bible—the One and true living God is the “God of ALL hope,” and His Son was sent to pay the penalty of your sin, to stand in your place and receive God’s right judgment for your sin. It pleased Him to bruise Him and to have Him murdered, crucified in your place to satisfy His Holiness and judgment against sin as your Substitute. He Who knew no sin became sin that you might become right with God. He exchanged His sinlessness for your defiance and disobedience to Him. It is because of His sin sacrifice on the cross for your sin that you before a Holy God may have His right standing to your account—pardoned and adopted by Him. He is what you need—a Friend in high places Whose life is perfect enough to satisfy the standard of holiness and sacrifice God requires. The fact to embrace is that neither you, I, nor anyone else is good enough for Him. But the question is, is He good enough for you? He died for you to be forgiven.
THE INVITATION FROM HIM
God’s call to you is always to Himself, through and ONLY through the Lord Jesus Who said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest; take My yoke upon you and you will find rest for your souls; Learn from Me for I am meek and gentle.”
Note His Kindness in His call to those who are burdened by religion. He didn’t call them to the temple or synagogue, He didn’t call them to walk up and down a mountain as an act of contrition, He called them to Himself, as He does to you…
“Come to Me”
“I will give you rest”
“Take My yoke”
“Learn from Me”
“I Am gentle and humble in heart”
“You will find rest”
What a Savior, what a Friend He is to sinners. Contemplate the call, “Come to Me…take My yoke upon you.” A yoke in those days was used to direct and guide an animal. Sometimes, depending on whose yoke an animal was under determined the treatment—harsh, pushing to extreme limits, cruel. But Jesus says His yoke, in submission to His authority, is one of kindness. We find the two self-descriptions He gives of Himself while on earth, “He is meek and gentle,” and we find He offers “rest,” glorious rest for the weary and burdened soul. Bask in the balm of His invitation to His friendship.
To those of you who think you’re good enough without Him, or perhaps you think you’re not good enough for Him to have anything to do with you, you are both dead wrong. While the first group is so full of self, too blind to see themselves as God sees them, the others loathe themselves and despise themselves. Yet neither are looking outside of themselves for The Savior. But to those who DO, they find the invitation from Him is still extended to sinners today.
-You are not good enough without Him, but you are good enough with Him!
-You are good enough because of Him!
-You have Jesus as your Friend, the Friend of sinners!
If you won’t have Him as your Friend, you remain a foe and will meet Him as your Judge. How tragic and unnecessary it really is. What will you do with Jesus, the Friend of sinners?
“You are My friends if you do what I command you,” (John 15:14).
– Jesus Christ