January 24


"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners" ' " (Luke 7:34, NIV).

The appellation, "friend of... sinners," was certainly not intended as a compliment to Jesus! The religious critics meant it as a condemnation of Jesus because of His association with the unacceptable classes they disparagingly called "publicans and sinners." Little did Christ's critics realize what a High compliment they had unintentionally paid Him.

Indeed, Jesus is the friend of sinners. That's precisely why He came to our planet in the form of sinful man (see Galatians 4:4). He came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10, NKJV). To fulfill this redemptive mission, Jesus associated with all people regardless of race, religious persuasion, or social status. By befriending sinners, He brought them hope, forgiveness, and self-worth.

Christ's redemptive friendship is best illustrated by three well-known personalities to whom Christ ministered. Zacchaeus, a rich, ruthless tax collector (see Luke 19:2), the woman caught in adultery (see John 8:3), and Mary of Magdalla, a women of unsavory reputation (see Luke 8:2). Though these three were assailed and despised as sinners, Christ befriended and forgave them. By reaching out to them in redeeming friendship, He marvelously changed their lives.

Every individual who has experienced the saving grace of Jesus can attest to the fact that Jesus is the friend of sinners. Paul reminds us that "there is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10). Then comes the most profound truth of all: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8, NIV). The accent is on the word while. "The Prince of glory left his exalted throne that he might become the friend of sinners. He died for the salvation of the world."--Review and Herald, June 14, 1892. What a friend we have in Jesus.

My Prayer Today: Lord, I confidently affirm today that the best friend to have is Jesus. Amen.