JESUS: THE FRIEND OF SINNERS
Intro: It has been said that a dog is man's best friend. It doesn't seem to matter what
you do to your dog, he just keeps on loving you just the same. There are times when I am
on the outs with everyone in our home, but that little dog of ours will come and remind me
that she still cares. If you had a million dollars and a dog, you would have a million
so-called friends and a dog. If you lose the million dollars and have nothing left, those
million friends would also be gone, but you would still have the dog. He doesn't care
about money, titles, position or privilege. All he asks is for the privilege of being near
his master. If you speak his name, you make his day. If you pet him on the head, he thinks
he is in dog heaven. His love is unselfish and undying. He is as constant in his love as
the sun is in its course across he heavens. I suppose it is true that among all the
animals in God's vast creation, there is no greater friend to mankind than the dog.
Sadly, most men do not experience that kind of devotion in their human friendships.
Here is what some have said regarding human friendships:
Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies and
the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries is sufficient: why enter then as
volunteers into those of another?
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S.
president. Letter, 12 Oct. 1786, to Maria Cosway.
Friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals; love, an
abject intercourse between tyrants and slaves.
Oliver Goldsmith (1728-74), Anglo-Irish
author, poet, playwright. Mr. Honeywood, in The Good Natur'd Man, act 1.
Old friendships are like meats served up repeatedly, cold,
comfortless, and distasteful. The stomach turns against them.
William Hazlitt (1778-1830), English
essayist. The Plain Speaker, "On the Pleasure of Hating" (1826).
The most fatal disease of friendship is gradual decay, or dislike
hourly increased by causes too slender for complaint, and too numerous for removal.
Samuel Johnson (1709-84), English author,
lexicographer. The Idler, no. 23, in Universal Chronicle (London, 23
Sept. 1758; repr. in Works of Samuel Johnson, vol. 2, ed. by W. J. Bate, John M.
Bullitt and L. F. Powell, 1963).
It seems evident from these quotes that these men think friendship to be a brittle and
weak thing. Thankfully not everyone agrees with this interpretation.
The greatest sweetener of human life is Friendship. To raise this to
the highest pitch of enjoyment, is a secret which but few discover.
Joseph Addison (1672-1719), English
essayist. Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments,
"Of Friendship" (1794).
To the query, "What is a friend?" his reply was "A
single soul dwelling in two bodies."
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), Greek
philosopher. Quoted in: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers,
"Aristotle," bk. 5, sct. 20.
A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), U.S.
essayist, poet, philosopher. Essays, "Friendship" (First Series, 1841).
As you journey through life, you will make and lose friends. It is
just the way things are! Thank God for the friends you have and pray for those you don't
have any longer. But, as you travel, remember that there is a Friend who outshines all the
friends you will make, or lose, along life's way. He was called, "A friend of
sinners" by His enemies. I think in all the Bible, there is no sweeter name to given
to the Lord Jesus Christ than this. To think that those who are called the enemies of God
have, for themselves, a Friend of such noble stature and quality as Jesus. He is the
Friend of the friendless!
When we look into the Word of God, we are met with this word
"friend" many times. In several of these places, the Bible gives us a definition
of just what a friend really is. Therefore, I would like to apply the acid test of the
Word of God to the Lord Jesus and show you that He is the sinner's Friend! Notice some
traits that prove this truth.
I. Jn. 15:12-13 A REAL FRIEND SACRIFICES
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord
doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have
made known unto you. John 15:12-15
A. Perhaps you have had a friend for which you would do anything. Or, perhaps you have
been fortunate enough to have a friend that would do anything for you. If so, then be
glad, for a friend of that degree is a rare thing!
B. These verses teach us the truth that Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to
die in our place on the cross. Even when were His enemies and lost in sin, He still
willingly died for us, Rom. 8:7; Rom. 5:6-8.
C. (Ill. Many think they need a friend with money, or power, or prestige, or influence,
or a million other things the world places its hopes on. In truth, the sinner needs a
friend who can save him from his sins and keep him out of Hell. Jesus, and Jesus alone, is
that Friend! A thousand others could have died, but none other could have paid the
sinner's due! Jesus died so that sinners might live in Him! The righteous died for the
unrighteous. Jesus proved that He was and is the sinner's best Friend!)
(Jack Lawler tells this story: "Near my office is a storage
locker building. A shabbily-dressed little man kept his tools and ran his yard maintenance
business from one of them. We spoke daily. One day, he clasped my arm and asked if he
could talk with me. I was very busy, hesitated, then said, "Yes." He told me his
troubles, tearfully. His wife had left him, his partner had stolen from him. I tried to
encourage him, urged him to turn his problems over to God, and told him I would pray for
"A few days later I was emptying a waste basket into a large
dumpster in back of my office building. As I leaned over, my glasses fell into the foul
garbage. Gazing down into the dumpster, I was mortified. Suddenly, my little neighbor
appeared. I told him of my loss. Instantly, he vaulted into the dumpster, sorted through
the garbage, found my glasses and held them up to me, smiling triumphantly. I thanked him
over and over.
"'It's nothing,' he said. 'You're my friend.'
"The Scripture says we should love one another. Sometimes love
requires sudden, unselfish action."
II. Pro. 17:17 A REAL FRIEND LOVES
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Pro. 17:17
A. One characteristic of true human friendship is an undyinglove that unaffected by
problems, misunderstandings or harsh words. It is a love that transcends all these things
and continues to function as if nothing ever happened. A love like this between two human
friends is almost nonexistent!
B. Jesus, on the other hand, displays this kind of love without wavering! Notice His
promise in Jeremiah 31:3, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love."
Notice that the term of this love is eternity. There is nothing which man can do that can
alter the love of God for him. Even though we are undeserving and horribly flawed at our
best, He loves us with an unchanging, everlasting love! Ill. Rom. 8:31-39.
C. Jesus is a real Friend because He loves us unconditionally. He places no limits on
His great love for man. If you remember nothing from any sermon you ever hear in this
church, remember this, "God loves you!"
( Robert Ingram tells of the time when he and his wife first had the
opportunity to go snowskiing. They were only going to have two-and-a-half days on the
slopes and hoped to spend the whole time learning how to ski. When they arrived at the
resort, they decided to call some friends who lived about 150 miles from there. When they
told them where they were, the friends said, "Why don't you come and see us? We're
only three hours away." Robert knew that if they did that it would take up a whole
day of their skiing time, so he rather flippantly said, "No, you're not a six-hour
friend." A little while later their friends called back to say they had hired a
babysitter, were packing up the car, and would be there to take us to dinner the next
evening. Robert was embarrassed when they closed the conversation by saying, "You are
six-hour friends for us." What he had intended as a joke turned out to be a valuable
lesson, however. He learned that friendship has a price. His friends were willing to
sacrifice in order to spend time with him. We must have a similar willingness to sacrifice
in order to spend time nurturing our relationship with God.)
III. Pro. 18:24 A REAL FRIEND IS STEADFAST
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that
sticketh closer than a brother. Prov 18:24
A. I suppose there have been times when we have all been betrayed by someone we thought
to be our friend. It is never pleasant and the pain never really goes completely away from
our hearts. But, what a joy it is to find a friend that doesn't turn and walk away from us
when we have hard times, or when we down.
B. Jesus is a steadfast Friend. There will never come a day when He isn't there beside
us to keep us, guide us and to comfort us. He is a Friend that sticketh closer than a
(Ill. A little girl came home after being with a friend and said to
her mother, "Janie was very sad, Mommy, because her kitty died. But I helped her feel
better." When asked what she had done, she replied, "I cried with her." How
wonderful it would be if we as Christians were as perceptive as that 4-year-old child. She
realized that sharing her friend's sorrow would do more good than anything else. Sometimes
words, even those based on the Bible, are no substitute for genuine sympathy. When a
person sees how much we really care, only then can our comments bring help and
(Ill. Jesus knows our hurts and He knows how to comfort us in our trying times - Heb.
C. Besides being steadfast in comforting us in times of sorrow, Jesus has given us His
word that He will forever be with us until our journey has ended. Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20.
What's more, He has send unto us the Holy Spirit who performs a wonderful comforting
ministry in our lives, John 14:16-18.
(Ill. The Holy Spirit is "Another Comforter." This is, He is "allon paraklhton"." Simply put, "allon"
= Another of the same kind and quality, and "paraklhton"
= One who comes alongside of. Jesus is telling the grief stricken disciples not to fear,
because He is sending One just like himself to walk alongside them as they journey.)
(Ill. Thank God for those friends who will stand by when the going
gets tough. Michelle is a 16-year-old girl who lives in Michigan. She has cancer, and she
was faced with months of chemotherapy. Without those powerful treatments, she had little
Michelle was apprehensive and afraid, but each time she went in to
get an injection, her best high school friend went with her. "I would lie on my back
after those treatments and be emotionally and physically exhausted," she said.
"But my friend would hold my hand and softly repeat, 'You're going to make it,
Michelle. I know you're going to make it.'" While other kids were out playing
ball, going shopping and doing homework, Michelle's friend was doing what friends do best.
She was being steadfast!)
IV. Mt. 11:19; Lk. 19:7 A REAL FRIEND ACCEPTS
The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and
a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with
a man that is a sinner. Luke 19:7
A. In these 2 passages, people were concerned that Jesus, who they perceived to be a
holy man, was spending His time hanging out with people of a disreputable character. Thank
God for those people who are willing to love you, warts and all. I have always been of the
opinion that folk can just take me as I am or they can go on their way. It is a great
thing to find a true friend that loves you just as you are.
B. This is one of the greatest aspects of having Jesus for a friend. He loves you just
like you are. He doesn't ask you to change before He will love you. He just loves you -
C. This truth offers no excuse to the person who wants to live a sinful live. Jesus
expects His children to live clean and do the best they can by His grace. However, when we
fail, and we will, He doesn't throw is aside and look for a new friend. He does what a
friend should do, He reaches down to us in our time of need and reminds us that He still
loves us and that He still cares.
D. He loves us in spite of our failures! We never have to earn His love. According to
the Scriptures, we are "accepted in the Beloved", Eph. 1:6.
(Ill. This term means that we "fit in." In our selves, we are sinful and
dirty. We could never hope to be worthy of coming into the presence of God. But in Jesus,
we "fit in." We are declared righteous and we are accepted by God, just as we
are! That is an incredible thing!)
V. Pro. 27:6 A REAL FRIEND OFFERS CORRECTION
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
A. Rare is the friend who will come to you face to face to tell you when you have made
a mistake. A friend who will come to you in love and will tell you that you are wrong is a
friend indeed! It is no friend who will allow you to go on in evil and not say anything
for fear of hurting your feelings. Real friends will reach out in their love for their
B. Jesus is a friend who will correct you when you are wrong! (Ill. Hebrews 12:6-11)
VI. Matt. 26:50 A REAL FRIEND FORGIVES
And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid
hands on Jesus, and took him. Matt 26:50
A. In any friendship, it is inevitable that there will be times when feelings will be
hurt. Blessed is that friend who has the power for forgive and to forget. When old wounds
are allowed to lie open and fester, then disease is always the result. A genuine friend
may be hurt and offended, but he will quickly put it behind him in favor of peace and
unity. By the way, anyone who refuses to forgive is no friend, but is an enemy for they
will, by their hateful spirit, destroy both themselves and you.
B. Thank God, Jesus is a friend who forgives! How many times have we crossed the line
and gone where God has forbidden us? How many times have we, like the Prodigal, smelling
of the world, dirty with the filth of sin, turned back to Jesus and with a repentant heart
told Him how wrong we were? When we did, we did not find an enemy. Instead, we found a
Friend. We found One who loved us in spite of our wanderings and One who was ready to
stand up in our behalf and plead our case before the bar of Heaven. Thank God! Jesus is a
Friend who forgives - 1 John 1:7-2:1.
C. Let no saint fear to return home. When He does, he find a forgiving Friend in the
Person of the Lord Jesus Christ!
(Ill. One of the all-time greats in baseball was Babe Ruth. His bat
had the power of a cannon, and his record of 714 home runs remained until Hank Aaron came
along. The Babe was the idol of sports fans, but in time age took its toll, and his
popularity began to wane. Finally the Yankees traded him to the Braves. In one of his last
games in Cincinnati, Babe Ruth began to falter. He struck out and made several misplays
that allowed the Reds to score five runs in one inning. As the Babe walked toward the
dugout, chin down and dejected, there rose from the stands an enormous storm of boos and
catcalls. Some fans actually shook their fists. Then a wonderful thing happened. A little
boy jumped over the railing, and with tears streaming down his cheeks he ran out to the
great athlete. Unashamedly, he flung his arms around the Babe's legs and held on tightly.
Babe Ruth scooped him up, hugged him, and set him down again. Patting him gently on the
head, he took his hand and the two of them walked off the field together.Such unreserved
loyalty is what true friendship is all about. We have such a friend in the person of Jesus
VII. John 15:15 A REAL FRIEND IS OPEN
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord
doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have
made known unto you. John 15:15
A. There are few friends with which you can share your deepest secrets without fear of
them being spread around like leaves from an autumn tree. It is a blessing, however, when
you find that friend with whom you can be open and honest.
B. Jesus is such a Friend! You can tell Him any thing and He will never betray your
confidence - 1 Pet. 5:7. You can lay any burden off onto His shoulders without fear that
He will mock you or run to tell another - Matt.. 11:28.
C. His Friendship is a 2 way street. Just as longs for you to confide in Him, He is
willing to share His truths with you. He has a will for your life and He will lead you
into that truth when you are willing to walk with him as with a friend, John 13:16. Can
you honestly say that you have an open relationship with the Lord Jesus?
Conc: Robert Louis Stevenson's tells a story of two sisters in
Edinburgh. These sisters lived comfortably in a rather large one-room apartment. But one
day they had a sharp disagreement.
As time passed, their anger grew, and they stopped speaking to each
other. Instead of resolving their dispute or one of them moving out, they both stubbornly
remained in the apartment-- all the while refusing to communicate. Stevenson wrote,
"A chalk line drawn upon the floor separated their two domains; it bisected the
doorway and the fireplace, so that each could go out and in and do her cooking without
violating the territory of the other. So, for years, they coexisted in a hateful
silence." How foolish!
It is a sad thing when we draw off areas of our lives and will not
allow Jesus to enter those areas. He longs to be our friend and if we will lower our
defenses and let him enter, He will do just that and will come in unto us and will be the
best Friend we have ever had.
Yes, Jesus is the sinner's Friend. But, to what extent that is true in your life is up
to you. I invite you, this evening, to come before the Lord and seek to be His Friend, He
is already yours.