Jesus, Friend of Sinners

While you might find it strange that I would be writing about leprosy, since the disease leprosy is not a significant problem in our country, figuratively there are many lepers in our society.  There are many who suffer from spiritual leprosy.  They feel rejected, ostracized, and outcast for a variety of reasons.  Their physical appearance may seem absolutely normal but people obviously avoid them.  And Heaven forbid that they come into physical contact with one of these “diseased” people!  Maybe their leporsy is drugs or alcolhol, gambling, pornography, adultery or the vast array of other tools Satan uses to destroy people.  What once may have been a successful person in society’s eyes now has a low or even no self-esteem and the world around them confirms how worthless they are each and every day.  They have probably sought out help from local agencies and programs that are supposed to provide assistance but they still suffer from this huge void in their lives.  Not a very inviting picture is it?

The Apostle Mark documents an event in Jesus ministry that tells us “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’  Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing.’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.” 2  This man had reached the point of desperation and he saw hope and “salvation” in this man called Jesus.  Through Jesus he would be made whole again and he would be healed.  He had probably tried every method of relief or professed cure available to no avail and now he sees the One who can relieve his pain and suffering.

Jesus is moved by this man’s confession of belief and He responded by doing two things: He touched the man and He responded by saying “I am willing.”  While in that day it would have been absolutely forbidden to touch a leper because it was viewed that the person who touched the leperous person would themselves be made unclean.  This passage creates a mental picture of the fact that Jesus is the One who can make the unclean clean.  He wants to make the unrighteous righteous.  Jesus spoke “Be clean.” and the leprosy was gone! This same cure exists today for those suffering from spiritual leprosy.

So if this same cure exists today then why are there so many people suffering from spiritual leprosy?  Why is it that this readily available cure is not finding widespread application?  I believe it is because God’s men are failing to take the assignment that Jesus gave them when He prepared to ascend into Heaven to be with the Father.  Scripture tells us “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ ” 3  This directive applies to every person that professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ!  It is not for the chosen few but for all of those saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.  “As you go” through your daily life be a soul winner for Jesus and then help that person to grow spiritually to the point that they can go and lead others to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Casting Crowns, a contemporary Christian music group, sings a wonderful song entitled “Jesus, Friend of Sinners.”4  These are the lyrics following:

Jesus friend of sinners we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus friend of sinners the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double-minded
A plank-eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Oh Jesus friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks yours
Yeah…

Jesus friend of sinners the one who’s writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring your people to their knees

Nobody knows what we’re for only against
When we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs
Crossed over the lines
and loved like You did

Oh Jesus friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks yours

You love every lost cause; You reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me a grateful leper at Your feet

God’s men have become quite skilled at pointing out the lepers but we have forgotten that we are called to minister to them.  “Jesus said ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stanger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ” 5

If God’s men are to model themselves after Jesus Christ then we cannot ignore this passage of scripture.  If that is the case then the critical question is what are we doing to minister to these Jesus describes.  Certainly His list is not all inclusive but gives key situations where God’s men can intervene.  Maybe you are a prayer warrior and you can lift up specific people who are going through a tough time.  Maybe God has blessed you financially and you can support ministries that focus on people in need for a variety of reasons.  Maybe God has called you out to be His hands and feet to go and share the love of Christ with the forgotten and thrown away people in your community.  Let the Holy Spirit be your guide and then be obedient to God’s directions.  I want to remind you, just as I have to remind myself what the lyrics of this song state  . . .  “God loves every lost cause; He reaches for the outcast, for the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that Jesus came!”

Thank you Father that Your Son came to pay my sin debt and help me to be Your instrument of love and light to show the lost, the outcast, the leper and the lame that You are available to them just as you are for me.  Help God’s men to remember that we are all “the least of these.”  Let the memory of your mercy bring Your men to their knees.  Let the hearts of God’s men be led by mercy and help us to reach out to those around us with open hearts and open doors.  Oh Jesus, friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks Yours! AMEN!


1  Jesus, Friend of Sinners; written by Matthew West and Mark Hall; performed by Casting Crowns; Warner/Chappel Music; Inc., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
2  Mark 1:40-42; All scripture used in this article is taken from the 1984 NIV translation of the Holy Bibly unless otherwise noted.
3  Matthew 28:18-20
4  Jesus, Friend of Sinners; written by Matthew West and Mark Hall; performed by Casting Crowns; Warner/Chappel Music; Inc., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
5  Matthew 25:35-40

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