John chapter 4 tells the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. It just so happens I’ve written on this passage before. This post describes everything “weird” about the conversation Jesus had with her, namely that a religious leader, or any Jewish man for that matter, would not have been talking to such a person.
John chapter 8 recounts the story of the woman caught in adultery. In this situation the woman is clearly guilty of a sin punishable by death. When she is left with no accusers (“Let he that is without sin…”) Jesus tells her that he will not condemn her either. She is told to go, and sin no more. How can he not condemn her, having been caught in the very act of adultery? Jesus explains himself in John 12:47:
“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”
He did not come to judge. He will come back someday and judge, but in 33 A.D. he was on earth to save the world. When accused of being a sinner himself, by sitting at the table with tax collectors, he said it is the sick who need a physician. When the disciples were eating without washing their hands, Jesus explained it is not what goes into the body that defiles it, but what comes out. (He means the stuff that comes out of our mouths. The same mouth does not issue blessings and cursing.)
In short, Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners. Jesus was a friend of sinners. In Luke 18, Jesus describes two men who went into the temple to pray. The Pharisee was full of self-righteousness, which the Bible says before God is as filthy rags. The tax collector confessed he was a sinner and begged for mercy. That’s the man Jesus said went home righteous. Jesus was, is and will be the friend of sinners, and it’s a good thing. He’s the only hope we’ve got.