This was the ugly accusation made against Jesus by His self-righteous and religious critics. Implied in their assertion was the notion that Jesus was being soft on sin and sinners.
They would have said He was walking a dangerous path and hanging with the wrong crowd. He was encouraging sin, you see, by not keeping Himself completely separate from all those wretches who came from the wrong side of the tracks. He was not avoiding every “appearance” of evil. He was making Himself an easy target for all those, who like them, might accuse Him of guilt by association.
So their charge against Jesus had nothing good in it. They meant only evil of Him. Here, before their eyes, was the very Son of God, Who was love personified, Who was holiness incarnate, Who was spotless in life and in lip and Who went about thinking, doing and speaking only good.
Yet these mere humans, flawed and wrong-headed, who were steeped in sin and error...these puny humans felt qualified to accuse Jesus of laxity in regard to sin. They were dead wrong in their thinking...but they were actually right on with their statement.
The ugly accusation was a beautiful, hope-bringing truth. Jesus was with sinners. He could not have avoided them, could He? Every person He met was sin-stained. However, Jesus was not with them in order to participate in or condone sinfulness. He was with them as a doctor with sick people. He accepted sinners where they were, just as they were, but was too good a “Friend” to leave them as He found them. No! He would bring them new and abundant life. He would free them from sin’s misery and mastery.
JESUS, FRIEND OF SINNERS! Ugly accusation by enemies. Unimaginably beautiful truth to all of us sinners who need Him so.
Written and submitted by Doug Oakes, minister, Woodlawn Church of Christ, Zanesville; email email@example.com