The greatest man who ever walked, the most perfect man who ever lived, is the best friend that sinners ever had.
Christ Blessing the Children
First of all, he was called a friend of tax-collectors and sinners (see Matt. 11:19)
Go through all the sayings of Jesus, and you will find that he was never hard on sinners, but always hard on their sin. "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more," he said to the woman taken in adultery (John 8:11)
He told his disciples, "The thief cometh not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly!" (John 10:10)
The word "compassion" is a strong New Testament word that we use often. It means "to suffer with": he suffers with me -- that is the complete meaning of it.
Now there is a great difference between feeling sorry for someone and having identifying sympathy with them.
You have heard it flippantly said, "I can feel for you, but I can't reach you!" Jesus not only felt for us; he can reach us! This was the problem of the man robbed and beaten on the Jericho road. He could see the men who passed him by, and they could see him, but his plight just didn't reach them.
A Samaritan got down, and came where he was, and helped him (Luke 10:33)
Jesus did not ever apologize for associating with the poor,the outcast, or the sinful.
Are we friends to people when they need friends, or are we friends to people when we want friends? Friendship is a two-way street, but some folds want to travel it in only one direction. Jesus' compassion demonstrated where his heart was.
He didn't say to Matthew, for instance, "Matthew, I want to be your friend, but you must realize my position. I cannot afford to be identified with you because you are a tax collector, and most people despise you. If I am your friend, they will criticize me!"
Jesus always chose the side of humanity. He showed compassion for the whole city, and wept over it, not just because of some few there, but because all of them were his concern.
Usually, we are kidding ourselves if we think we have a lot of friends, although we may know a lot of people. Count as friends only those who are with you when you are down as well as when you are up, when you are wrong as well as when you are right.
"I don't condemn you," Jesus says to us. "I encourage you in a better way of life." Isn't it incredible? The most perfect man who ever lived is willing to offer those who are so imperfect his friendship! Yet we, forgetting our own shortcomings, often judge with severity other imperfect people.
God doesn't turn his back on us! If a back is turned, we can be sure it is ours. The people to whom we need to witness are no different from what we were before God saved us.
Jesus came into the world, bearing all God's love, to pour it out on Calvary for sinful men -- together with his life's blood. Oh, his friendship to us is wonderful!
The Personal Jesus
by R. Earl Allen
Image courtesy of all posters
- Posted on: Wed, Oct 31 2007 3:25 PM