Friend of Sinners?

Today’s reading Matthew 7-9

Matthew 9:9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

We often hear that Jesus was a friend of sinners and He was. However the story is often ripped from its context. The story actually found in the Bible goes like this. Jesus saved and called out Matthew to be an apostle. Apparently when the publicans, what Matthew was before he got saved, and sinners saw what was happening in Matthew’s life came to see for themselves.

Matthew gets saved. He uses his influence to get his friends to Jesus. Jesus does love and care for them and patiently sits and eats with them.

The story really isn’t so much about Jesus seeking out the sinners as it is Matthew bringing his friends to Jesus.

Jesus did come to seek and save sinners but sometimes it seems that some would like to use this passage as an excuse to be friends with sinners out of the context. This phrase is only found in this story. It was the lost religious world that made the accusation.

Jesus was a friend of sinners and still is. He stands ready to save any that will come to Him. But the phrase friend of sinners never gives me an excuse to just go to lost people, get accepted in their culture, be their friend without the express purpose of getting the gospel to them.

Friendship evangelism used like Matthew did would mean that we go tell our friends to come and hear more about Jesus. It would mean that we influence all in our sphere of influence to know Jesus.

Don’t degrade this passage to something that says you can go incognito among lost people, sinners and publicans, without expressly telling them about Jesus!

About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.
1 Response
  1. Todd Stricklin

    Just read this for the second time today. An outstanding article and a wonderful reminder in the midst of a culture and climate that thrives on singing “Just as I AM” louder when they are leaving the altar than when they are approaching…

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