Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


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A Friend of Sinners

  • Jim Townsley
  • Mar 30, 2017
Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners. The precise phrase  “friend of sinners”  is mentioned twice in the Gospels, in Matthew 11:19 - The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” and Luke 7:34 – “The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” The naysayers of the day, the religious aristocracy, criticized Jesus as a “glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Of course He was not a glutton or a drunkard but He did show love to sinners and publicans.
The term “sinners” is a technical term for the common people who did not live by the rigid and legalistic rules of the Pharisees. It means the alienated and rejected who needed God’s grace. They were stunned that Jesus would share table fellowship with them and spend time with them. They were amazed and the religious hypocrites were angered. These Jewish leaders shunned these groups of people and considered themselves better than them.
It is important to recognize the true motivation of Jesus eating with sinners. His purpose was never to be like them or join in their sinful ways or even to condone their lifestyle. Jesus befriended sinners in order to give them the gospel and give them eternal life. While doing so he never once sinned Himself because He was without sin. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” - - 2 Corinthians 5:21. Also note Hebrews 4:15 -   “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  Jesus was not tolerant of sin, He just loved the sinner. Later we see His hatred of sin when he made a whip and drove the moneychangers out of the Temple. Jesus Christ had the perfect balance of hating sin and loving sinners.
If Jesus befriended sinners shouldn’t we also befriend the lost sinners of the world? What sinner have you befriended? Isn’t it the job of the church planter to find a sinner and befriend him for the gospel’s sake?
“And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” - - Luke 5:31-32. The Bible teaches us that we are placed into this world but we are not to love it. Our goal in the ministry should be to reach the world with the gospel and that especially includes sinners and outcasts.  
Many new churches are established reaching the outcasts of the community rather than the influential. Going to the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind was the command of the host of the Great Supper. It should be true of every church today as well. It was the pattern of Jesus ministry to go to those who were hurting, sinful or neglected. He gave the gospel to the woman at the well; He healed the sight of blind Bartimaeus and went to the house of the tax collector Zaccheaus. Are we following His model? What sinner have you befriended? Jesus ended His life by saving a dying thief on the cross. Through our Lord’s ministry He made a special point of going with the message of salvation to those sinful men and women that needed the gospel.
If our community observed us participating in sinful activities of the world it would end our ministry. But if we preach the Bible to sinful men and women they will be convicted by the truth. Our goal should be to find a fallen man or woman and begin praying for their salvation and befriending them for the sake of the gospel.