What It Means to Be Human: Friendship

David Bast

Read: Matthew 11:11-19

. . . a friend of tax collectors and sinners. (v. 19)

Of all the biblical titles of Jesus, one of my favorites is this one: he is “the friend of sinners.” Jesus is a friend to people who aren’t successful, people who have tried life and failed at it, people who have used up all their chances, people who can’t make it on their own, people who don’t deserve God’s favor, and know it. In short, people who are sinners. I don’t know about you, but if that’s the basic requirement for friendship with Jesus, I certainly qualify.

Jesus’ friendship is a gift. It is offered to all, but only received by those who acknowledge their need for it. If we go on clutching our money, stuff, status, and shreds of self-righteousness, if we derive our sense of worth and importance from such things, then Jesus’ friendship will mean little to us. God looks with favor upon the lowly; the proud he sends empty away. As long as you go on thinking you are Somebody Special, and that you’re doing God a favor by believing in him, you’ll never be a friend of Jesus. Martin Luther wrote these wise words to a friend: “Beware of aspiring to such purity that you will not wish to be looked upon as a sinner, or to be one. For Christ dwells only in sinners.”

One other thing: if Jesus could be a friend of sinners, can’t we? Don’t reserve your friendship only for those who deserve it, or can repay it. —David Bast

Prayer: What a Friend we have in Jesus. Indeed!