In today’s reading (Matthew 9) we see Jesus hanging out with people who were considered the worst of sinners. In fact, one of the things Jesus was called was, “A friend of sinners.” And that is actually a great title for God, “The Friend of Sinners.” And I wonder if that could be said about me, and about you? It’s easy for Christians to hang out in their holy huddles, enjoying fellowship with those who share their faith, and that’s not bad, but are you a friend of sinners?
When people complain, Jesus explains that it’s not just that He’s hanging around sinners, they are the reason He came. His whole purpose in showing up on earth was to help people who are far from God get close to Him. And I wonder if that could be said about me, and about you? Why do you go to work in the morning? Why do you put your kids in sports? Why do you go to the grocery store? I think the answer should be, “When I show up, it’s always to help people who are far from God get close to Him.”
Later we see WHY Jesus was this way. It’s because when He looked at people, He saw sheep without their shepherd. He saw people separated from their Heavenly Father. And knowing how much their Father loved them and wanted to be with them, and knowing how much those people need their Father, well, Jesus just couldn’t take it. So He had compassion on them, and begged His friends to pray that His followers would become friends of sinners and show up to help people who are far from God get close to Him. And I wonder if that could be said about me, and about you? When you see people who don’t have a relationship with God, does it break your heart? And do you realize that you have the honor of being the answer to Jesus’ prayer?