The sermon for this Sunday (March 4) is on Matthew 9:9-13, and is entitled “Jesus Is a Friend to Sinners.” In this passage, Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him, and Jesus eats a meal with “tax collectors and sinners.” Jesus loved sinners. The Pharisees didn’t, and the Pharisees among us still don’t. Here is a quote from Craig Blomberg on Jesus’ love for sinners and how we should love in the same way:
Jesus’ fraternizing with disreputable people remains a scandal in the predominately middle class, suburban, Western church. Many of us, like the Pharisees, at best ignore the outcasts of our society and at worst continue to discriminate against them. We do well to consider substantially increasing our spiritual, evangelistic, and social outreach to minorities, the homeless, prostitutes, addicts and pushers, gays and lesbians, AIDS victims, and the like, as well as to the more hidden outcasts such as divorcees, single parents, the elderly, white-collar alcoholics, and so on. We must get to know them as intimately as Jesus did—only close and trusted friends shared table fellowship over meals. We dare not join with sinners in their sinning, but we may well have to go places with them and encounter the world’s wickedness in ways that contemporary Pharisees in our churches will decry. (See Craig Blomberg’s commentary on Matthew, pg. 157.)
Loving sinners like Jesus did (i.e., by befriending them) will always make legalistic religious folks angry, but that’s no reason to avoid doing it. Jesus is a friend to sinners. Are you?