Friend of Jesus or Friend of Sinners

Jesus is called the friend of tax gatherers and sinners. And rightfully so because Jesus’ heart for those who not only do not believe in Him, but also abuse other people by taking advantage of them is legendary.

What is the goal of Jesus’ friendship and what does His friendship look like? Have you ever asked those questions? Have you ever pondered what Jesus defines friendship as being?

It is one thing to be friends with someone you are trying to have relationship with and it is an entirely different thing to be in a relationship with them Jesus approves.

Do you have a goal in your friendships other than just to have friends? Do you need to be needed so much that you are just happy to have someone in your life that you call a friend? Or are you establishing the friendship to bring that person into a real relationship with the One who absolutely has specific goals in mind?

Two gospel writers describe Jesus as being a friend to sinners. They are Matthew and Luke.


“19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” [Matthew 11]


34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners !’ 35 “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” [Luke 7]

Both Matthew and Luke say that Jesus said, “They say” and “You say” respectively. Who are the “they” and “you” Jesus was referring to when He made this statement? Matthew said it was the crowds that had gathered. Luke, who as a historian, typically gives more information in his gospel included tax collectors, the people and the Pharisees and lawyers.

Jesus very clearly communicated that other people labeled Him friend of those those same people despised. He did not contradict them which tells me that He saw Himself as a friend to them.

Jesus, after referring to what “they” said, said this, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” and “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” Heavenly wisdom is verified through the heavenly results of what is produced.

Jesus clarified what being a friend to someone looks like to Him.  Please keep in mind the men He made His famous statement on friendship to were all were sinners and one, Matthew, was a tax collector when Jesus called him to follow Him. This is what He said to His disciples who He personally chose to be on His original ministry team.

“12 This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain” [John 15]

Well now, that is quite a stark contrast to the modern watered down importance on what genuine friendship looks like from heaven’s perspective.

Jesus said:

  • This is My commandment – What follows is NOT a suggestion
  • You love one another – What love look like to Jesus is described in what He says
  • Just as I have loved you – Jesus is our role model for all life and ministry
  • Greater love looks like laying down your life for others [friends] – Love looks like elevating people to what Jesus desires for them
  • You are My friends IF – If denotes an option
  • You DO what I command you – Complete obedience is a requirement to being a friend of Jesus
  • No longer do I call you slaves – A transition had taken place in the relationship between Jesus and His disciples
  • I call you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you – True friendship requires transparency that leads to real intimacy [into-me-see]
  • I chose you – This tells me Jesus believes before we prove ourselves to Him that we will choose to enter into the kind of relationship He looks for when He chooses us
  • I appointed you to go and bear good fruit, and that your fruit would remain – The fruit we produce is to be lasting fruit that Jesus approves of

So, does your relationship with Jesus look like what He requires? Does your relationship with your “friends” look like what Jesus describes as kingdom friendships? If not why not?

What is your goal in having friends? Is your goal the same as Jesus’ goals of being a friend of those others despise?

Friends. if you are not pursuing the same goals as Jesus is pursuing then what are you saying about what you are trying to accomplish? Maybe you are not secure enough in your own identity because you are not all that secure in your relationship with Jesus.

If that is the case you need to cease and desist your friendships until you become a genuine friend of Jesus, because you are not doing what He commands. Who you are “in Him” will manifest what He manifests when He enters into a relationship with someone.

Keep HIS Passion, Power, Presence and Purpose!

Dr, Kevin M. Drury, DMin

His Hisstorymaker



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