There are a couple of songs that I’m familiar with that use the phrase “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”. While the songs are very different in nature, it’s that phrase–Jesus, Friend of Sinners–that captures my soul.
Since becoming a follower of Christ, I have been struck by the idea that Jesus calls us friends. Take a look at this passage in John 15 (ESV):
13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone 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 servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
It is remarkable enough that Jesus calls us friends. But if we take it one step further–and we must–He is a friend of sinners.(Matthew 11:19) He is a friend to the tax collector. To the adulteress. To Judas, who was going to betray Him (Matthew 26:50: “Friend, do what you came to do.”)
And He is a friend to me, a sinner.
And He is a friend to you, a sinner.
I find John 15:13-15 to be an amazing passage. Let’s look at it backwards:
John 15:15: Jesus calls us friends and no longer servants, because He has made known to those who follow Him, the things of His Father, our God. This beautiful information he shares with those He calls friends, who trust and believe in Him. They (we) are no longer servants, but friends. Astounding.
John 15:14: You are my friends if you do what I command you. We become Jesus’ friend when we are in obedience to Him, when we become followers of Christ. When we, wretched sinners, do what Jesus commands us to do.
John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. This is another way that we know that we are the friends of Jesus–He laid down His life for us. He laid down His life for sinners like me. Like you.
The phrase “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” is astonishing. It is shocking. And it is beautiful.