Jesus As Friend

Jesus as Friend

Doubter’s Guide Blog | Jesus as Friend
by Van Hardin, Missions Pastor

Most people won’t watch a single dribble of a basketball game until the NCAA tournament. There’s something about March Madness that piques the interest of even the most nominal sports fans. I suspect this has something to do with our proclivity towards a good underdog story and the inevitability of March Madness to provide just that. It seems to be human nature for us to see the oft forgotten or overlooked receive the spotlight for a while.

I love the stories of Jesus spending time with the marginalized. I especially love the stories like the one found in Matthew 9:9-13, which displays the “religious” witnessing Jesus interacting with the underdog. The Pharisees never seem to get the point of who Jesus is and why He came. In this story they ask Jesus’ disciples, why their teacher spends time with sinners. Having overheard their question, Jesus responds as He often does, in a deeply thought-provoking manner. He says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus quotes from Hosea saying, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” and goes on to say that He has come for the sinner, not for the righteous.

In Jesus we see a loving, wise, gracious, and empowering God. In this story both the marginalized and the pretentious graciously receive His love, benefit from His wisdom, and are being empowered to live a more full life in relationship to Him and others. As Jesus points back to the words of the prophet Hosea, He seeks to teach those who will listen then and today that we are called to live a life of devotion to God and that a heart abiding in God is a heart full of compassion for others.

I would suspect that the Pharisees thought that they, above all others, were living devoted to God, but the gospel that Jesus was speaking to them was one of refocusing their hearts to the heart of God. Doing such would undoubtedly lead them towards love for others and further away from love for their own merit and knowledge. In When Christians Get It Wrong, Adam Hamilton speaks of Jesus’ message to the Pharisees by saying, “Jesus taught that God’s primary rule was love, and that God’s interest wasn’t in condemning “sinners” but in drawing them to God.”

Unfortunately, I have been the Pharisee in this story many times in my life. I pray that as the Lord refines me, I am less like the Pharisee and more like Christ, who in love and acceptance, is a friend to the marginalized and to the pretentious.

This week pray:

God convict us of our sin.
Jesus thank you for your sacrifice for that sin.
Holy Spirit give us hearts of compassion to love others, Amen.