Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Jesus Friend of Sinners
All our sins and griefs to bear."
All of us are somewhat familiar with this classic, "hymn of the faith" written in 1855 by Joseph Scriven. The very concept of Jesus being the friend of sinners and tax collectors was what enraged the religious leaders, the pharisees and scribes. What was it about Jesus that drew people to listen to him?
Jesus was the master storyteller and he constantly told parables about The love of God. In Luke Chapter 15, Jesus tells a series of parables about God's love and care for sinners. The leaders and so called, "experts" of the law were among those in the crowd listening and waited patiently to accuse him as soon as he was finished. They were not concerned about the lost and wayward people knowing about God's love. They were more interested in trying to find something that Jesus said that was wrong and publicly denounce Him as a false religious leader.
In Luke Chapter 15, Jesus tells the story of the lost sheep, the lost coin and then His most famous and best loved parable about the prodigal son. The story of the prodigal son is very familiar to most of us. A son demands his inheritance now and runs off to spend it on himself. When he finally hits rock bottom, he longs for home but doesn't think his father will ever forgive him. In contrast, Jesus paints a picture of the father running up to his son embracing and kissing him and forgiving him of all of his sins. This enraged the pharisees and the scribes that God would forgive and love a son who did this to his father.
In The Quran, Surah 3:140, it reads, "Allah loveth not those who do wrong." This was precisely the attitude of the pharisees and the scribes. They had a view that God did not love sinners. Yet Jesus went out of his way to describe God as just the opposite. God loves the sinner, forgives the wayward child and heals the broken hearted. Jesus was not implying God condoned the sin. He painted a picture of God running to his prodigal son with his arms open wide and anxious to forgive and cleanse him. The Bible says in Romans 5:8, " God showed his great love for us by sending Jesus to die for us while we were yet sinners."
All of us wants our consciences clean and the stain of guilt removed when we do wrong. This is precisely the reason why the sinners and tax collectors were drawn to hear Jesus teach. They knew they had broken God's law and realized if they came to Jesus that they would hear about the father's unconditional love for them.