Jesus, friend of sinners open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers. Let our hearts be led by mercy. Help us reach with open hearts and open doors. Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who is writing in the sand. Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands. Help us to remember we are all the least of these. Let the memory of your mercy bring your people to their knees. Nobody knows what we are for only what we are against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs, crossed over the lines and loved like you did? – Casting Crowns, Jesus, friend of sinners.
JESUS FRIEND OF SINNERS
“For the son of man has come to seek and save that which was lost.” (NKJV)
Verse reference: John 8:1-11
The door burst open and in the spur of the moment, she felt rough hands lift her off from the bed. She froze as she came face to face with the teachers of the law. Fear crippled her, freezing every muscle of her body even though she could tell she was shaking on the outside.
I am a married woman. They will surely kill me.
Her thoughts raced wildly in her head. The angry men gripped her arms dragging her and her secret sin into the street. She was half dressed. Dread griped her, she desperately wanted to fight for her life but she was no match for the men that seized her. A gathering crowd looked down on her with scorn. Their stares piercing her like arrows. She hung her head in shame. The insults fell on her like blows.
The crowd chanted. They were talking about stoning. Color drained from her face. Sobs racked her body as she fought in the strong grips that half pushed and half dragged her in the street. Her fate was sealed by the laws. It was written,
If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die- the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel. (Deuteronomy 22:22, NKJV)
I am going to die! Where is the man?
Her train of thought was interrupted as she was violently shoved in the middle of the temple. The tears flew freely now, as reality began to sink in, guilt lay like a rock in her heart. One of the Pharisees spoke to the man who stood near her
“Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?”
She cringed and braced herself for the contact of the first stone, anticipating the pain. She held her breath and waited…
When she finally looked up, the man was stooping down writing on the ground with his finger as though he did not hear them.
“Tell us your verdict!”
“She deserves to be stoned!”
The crowd badgered him, stones in their hands impatiently waiting for a ruling. The man raised Himself up and spoke,
“He who is without sin among you, let Him throw a stone at her first.”
And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. The crowd stood astonished, silence enveloped the temple only being broken by the first stone that was dropped on the floor. One by one the thud of the stones echoed in the room creating a rhythm in the ears of the adulteress woman. She was at a loss for words.
The man raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman. He looked upon her tear stained face and spoke to her,
“Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, Lord”
“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more”
The sin of the woman in John 8 was real. She was caught in the act of adultery; one of the greatest crimes in that era. Jesus looked at her and forgave her, sending her on her way with the commission to sin no more. Wherever there were people throughout the Bible, there you would find the love and the interest of Jesus. When the disciples in John 4 came back out of Sychar they were astonished to find Jesus seated at the side of the well, talking to a woman. It was beneath the dignity of any teacher to speak to a woman, but Jesus not only spoke to a woman but chose one whose background and whose character was dark. In the choosing of the twelve, he chose a tax collector named Matthew. He saw in that man, in the little records he made the potential of a Gospel writer. The gospel of Jesus and the sayings like the Sermon on the Mount from God were carefully written by the despised, hated and unlawful tax collector. Jesus identified Himself with the needs of all men everywhere. Whether it was a tainted tax collector, a filthy and loathsome leper or a vile harlot of Samaria, all were dear and precious in the eyes of Jesus. Jesus had a different approach to sin. He had a way that he dealt with sin that made all the difference between Him and the Pharisees. He was a friend of sinners
Centuries later, the question in my heart is, how do you (insert name) treat sinners? What is your attitude towards the judged? How is it that modern day Christians treat the rest of the world? A common phrase that is used is, come as you are. Do we really mean it? When you say come as you are to that drunkard, homosexual, harlot, bootlegger and even controversial pastor. Do you really mean it? There are times we say, come as you are and our actions betray the state of our hearts. We are harsh and critical. Searing and caustic. Unsympathetic. We quietly judge in our hearts and mostly keep our distance. The people we are meant to welcome in our homes, circles and fellowships would rather seek solace in other places than the critical hands of modern-day Pharisees. Am I saying we are to overlook sin? Heavens no! The idea is not to be liberal in our attitude towards sin that we do not admonish it. The idea is to walk like Jesus walked.
Jesus never lowered a standard, never. Yet He was such that the sinners loved to hear from him. He did not ask for human perfection, He did not condemn. He did not require that sinners clean up their act before coming to Him. Our place and our work on Earth is not to judge or make people feel unwanted or unworthy .Our place is to lead/point others to Christ and give the Holy Spirit room to play His part. Jesus I suppose could have written sermons and delivered them to sinners, or He could have stood on mountain tops and addressed words to sinners. Call them out. Tell them they are wrong and prescribe solutions. He could have but that was not His way. We see Jesus on the very street where sinners lived, calling them by name and speaking to them. He was personal about it. We see Him extending His hands and breaking bread with them. In love and affection. Always in love and affection. Not in a way that suggested I am better than you. No, in love and affection because one can never really effectively correct someone if they are not assured of your love. The message does not quite get home if they are not sure of the place you are coming from and truly people with flaws will not keep returning to places where their flaws is always the subject of discussion. They do not like the company of overly righteous people.
So, come as you are. If our actions tell people to clean up their act truly what are they cleaning up if they do not look to the one who cleans up acts. If we draw them further from the mender of broken hearts how will their hearts be mended? Nobody will know what we are for only what we are against if we constantly judge and reject. Even to the Christian who occasionally feels unworthy, come as you are. In my walk, there are countless times where I feel unworthy. Undeserving. Most of the times, I do not feel like I belong in the Christian community. In fellowships or gatherings. I want to beat myself up and wallow in that state of unworthiness, but Jesus says, come as you are. In your flaws and misgivings, show up in that service, show up in that fellowship because right there in that state. In your brokenness, He will redeem you. Grace has won you over. We do not have to sit in that pool of condemnation because Grace already won.
At the end of the day, his promise remains, nothing can separate us from His love ( Romans 8:37-39). This love that He so easily accords us is the same love we are called to dispense to others. So that when we stand in front of the pulpit or walk up to people and tell them “Come as you are!” our actions will back up our words because we draw our sense of love and affection from God and we truly mean it. That we may love every lost cause and reach for the outcast because that is the reason that Jesus came.