Jesus, Friend of Sinners:
“a friend of…sinners.” (Luke 7:34).
Yesterday, we looked at the law of God as expressed in the 10 commandments. Now, some of you may have walked away saying, “I am a sinner. I have broken God’s law. What should I do?” Well, take heart – today’s message is for you. I wrote that one of the purposes of God’s law is to show people how guilty they are, because it is only when people recognize that they are sinners that they will realize their need for a Saviour. And Jesus Himself said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do…For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” (Matthew 9:12-13).
When Jesus walked on the Earth 2,000 years ago, He has a reputation as a “friend of sinners.” The religious leaders of His day scorned Him with that nick-name, and used it in a derogatory sense. But thank God that Jesus is a friend of sinners. Let me share with you a story from the life of Jesus that so beautifully illustrates the heart of Jesus towards us as guilty sinners.
“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and Pharisees brought a woman they had caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones.” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to her, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11).
Here was a woman – a very sinful woman – caught in the very act of adultery. The religious leaders had brought her to Jesus, trying to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him. The law said she should be stoned. But Jesus was known as a friend of sinners and tax-collectors and prostitutes. How could He condemn her? Jesus responded to the Pharisees by saying, “All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones.” He knew that there was not one there who had never sinned, and one by one, her accusers walked away. His final words to this sinful woman are an encouragement and a challenge to us today. First of all, He encouraged her by saying, “Neither do I condemn you.” The Bible beautifully declares, “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). But Jesus added this warning, “Now go, and sin no more.”
Romans 5:20 says, “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful kindness became more abundant.” Some people would say then, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness?” (Romans 6:1). God’s answer is, “Of course not. Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Romans 6:2). Jesus is a friend of sinners. He doesn’t condemn us, but He does command us to go and sin no more. So be encouraged. Jesus loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way. Jesus is a friend of sinners, but He is no friend of sin. Let us pray for the grace to go and sin no more today.
Pastor Chris Jordan