Joni and Friends Blog

Friend of Sinners

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners.’'”

—Matthew 11:19

The pastor of a church I was visiting introduced me to a newcomer who was struggling with cancer. “I’m not ready to give my life to Jesus,” he said to me.

“Have you told Jesus that?” I asked. Judging from the stymied look on his face, the idea of praying was the farthest thing from his mind. “Why don’t you take time right now to tell Jesus? Whatever is on your heart, you can tell him.” The man gave a smile when I reached for his hand, and then bowed his head with mine, saying, “Lord, I…uh…they tell me I should give my life to you…and although I can’t…that is, I guess I won’t…I really do…I really want to believe. Please…help me.”

“You’re well on your way to believing in Christ,” I said after he finished praying. How could I be so sure? Because he had opened up his heart to encounter the Lord Jesus. When someone engages God in prayer, that person can never be quite the same. That man’s prayer, though feeble and faltering, meant the Savior in turn had a handhold on him. With the encouragement of his pastor and friends, it won’t be long before he’s welcomed into the family.

The Good News sounds great to those who see Jesus befriending them. In the Gospels the Lord Jesus is constantly presented as a friend of sinners. He moved among people as their friend before he became their Savior.

Who can you befriend on Jesus’ behalf today? Ask God to bring to mind someone who needs him—and you. How about you? Do you need a friend today? Ask Jesus to be with you in a way that will be a comfort to you.

When I share our friendship with others today, Lord, help me to show them you want to be their friend, too. Thank you for being so interested in people as…people! Help me to convey that today.

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