Picture this: You are back in high school. The bell rings and it is now officially the lunch period. You walk into the cafeteria with your bag of lunch consisting of the latest salad fad, a granola bar, and a bottle of water. You scan the room to look for your group of friends and you see all the groups that high school is made up of. You see the jocks sitting close to the lunch line, next to them is your table (the “popular crowd that is”), you keep scanning the room and see the super smart people (aka “nerds”), then there’s the goths, and finally, at the very back of the lunch room is a table designated for the “loners”. The loners are the ones that nobody likes. Actually, no one even dares to glance in their direction. The nerds are more liked than this group of people.
You roll your eyes in their direction and just walk straight to your lunch table. As you and your bestie start talking about this Friday night’s awesome plans you notice the new girl from your math class walk into the cafeteria. You thought she was pretty cool and so you stood up to wave her over in your direction, but then immediately sit back down when you see what she is going to do. She was heading to the “loner” table.
You start to tell your friend that you feel bad because the new girl thinks she is a loner and has to sit by herself with the other “losers”. You talk your friend into getting up with you and walking over to the “loner” table to ask her to come and sit with you guys. When you get to the table you see something unbelievable and unheard of in the history of the lunch room at your high school and high schools all over the globe. The new girl is talking to, and even sharing food with, the “losers” and the “outcasts” of the entire school.
Without a filter, or even the thought of holding anything back, you just say “Wow, I was going to ask you to come and sit with me and my cool friends, but I guess you have found the “loser” table.”
What shocks you the most is the new girl’s response: “I just thought these people would like the company, feel free to join us!”
What an outrage. Can you believe this girl?! Who is she?! Befriending the most disliked people in school! Talk about crazy. You and your friend head back to your own lunch table to tell everyone else the scandalous scene you just witnessed.
Now, focus back to reality. This is what it looked like when Jesus asked the tax collector, Levi, to be His disciple. But probably 10x worse! Or when Jesus let the “immoral woman” wash his feet. Jesus wasn’t very popular because of these actions. Just like the new girl in the high school flashback.
The Pharisees looked badly towards Jesus because He cared “too much” for the “losers”, the outcasts of society. He befriended the people that the rest of society looked down upon. The Pharisees asked the same question: “Who is this man to come into our town and decide to sit with the lost and broken and ask a tax collector, of all people, to follow Him?”
So, who is He? Who is Jesus? Jesus is the friend of sinners. Jesus is love. Jesus is not going to condemn you, or anyone else. John made that clear in His gospel… “Jesus did not come into the world to ‘condemn’ the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved.” He is not going to look down upon you for a sinful decision you made. No, if anything, He is going to do just the opposite. He is going to come to you because He wants to restore you, forgive you, and redeem His purpose in you.
Jesus is not ashamed to be around sinners. In fact, sinners were attracted to Jesus! He is not afraid of what people, like the Pharisees, might say either. We can trust this is true because He did it in the Bible. Jesus is unchanging. Jesus accepts us as we are. And as we begin to follow Him, we’re not left the same for very long. Jesus changes us, He turns ashes into beauty if we’ll allow Him the opportunity.
Jesus is a friend of sinners and He is not ashamed of it. To learn more about this, check out Pastor Aaron’s sermon: “Who Is This Man?: Friend of Sinners” on PAG’s podcast.
Remember, even if you have sin in your life, or if you don’t feel accepted in society, Jesus is still here, He still wants to be your friend. Will you run to Him?
Blogger, Writer, College Student