556. The Sinner’s Friend — Matthew 11:19

[Jesus] will never love you less—he cannot love you more. ~ C.H.S.

“A friend of tax collectors and sinners.”—Matthew 11:19.

Main Points:
1. Jesus was the friend of sinners – 2:40
2. Jesus is the friend of sinners still – 20:36

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As soon as Jesus Christ, being born in the likeness of sinful flesh, has come to years of maturity, and has commenced his real life-work, he at once discloses his friendship for sinners by associating with them. You do not find him standing at a distance, issuing his mandates and his orders to sinners to make themselves better, but you find him coming among them like a good workman who stands over his work; he takes his place where the sin and the iniquity are, and he personally comes to deal with it. He does not write out a prescription and send by another hand his medicines with which to heal the sickness of sin, but he comes right into the lazar-house, touches the wounded, looks at the sick; and there is healing in the touch; there is life in the look. The great Physician took upon himself our sicknesses and bare our infirmities, and so proved himself to be really the sinner’s friend. Some people appear to like to have a philanthropic love towards the fallen, but yet they would not touch them with a pair of tongs. They would lift them up if they could, but it must be by some machinery—some sort of contrivance by which they would not degrade themselves or contaminate their own hands. Not so the Saviour. Up to the very elbow he seems to thrust that gracious arm of his into the mire, to pull up the lost one out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay.

A special providence brings the woman to the well. The conventionalities of society forbid him to talk with her. But he breaks through the narrow bigotry of caste. A Samaritan by birth, he cares not for that; but will that most holy being condescend to have familiar conversation with her—a dishonour to her sex? He will. His disciples may marvel when they come back and find him talking with her, but he will do it. He begins to open up the Word of life to her understanding, and that woman becomes the first Christian missionary we ever hear of, for she ran back to the city, leaving her water-pot, and crying, “Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” And they came and believed; and there was great joy in that city of Samaria.

As for the river of the Saviour’s love to sinners, I have only brought you to its banks. You have but stood on the bank and dipped your feet in the flood; but now prepare to swim. So fond was he of sinners that he made his grave with the wicked. He was numbered with the transgressors. God’s fiery sword was drawn to smite a world of sinners down to hell. It must fall on those sinners. But Christ loves them. His prayers stay the arm of God a little while, but still the sword must fall in due time. What is to be done? By what means can they be rescued? Swifter than the lightning’s flash I see that sword descending. But what is that in vision I behold? It falls—but where? Not on the neck of sinners; it is not their neck which is broken by its cruel edge; it is not their heart which bleeds beneath its awful force. No; the “friend of sinners” has put himself into the sinner’s place! and then, as if he had been the sinner, though in him was no sin, he suffers, bleeds, and dies—no common suffering—no ordinary bleeding—no death such as mortals know. It was a death in which the second death was comprehended; a bleeding in which the very veins of God were emptied. The God-man divinely suffered. I know not how else to express the suffering. It was a more than mortal agony, for the divine strengthened the human, and the man was made vast and mighty to endure through his being a God. Being God and man he endured more than ten thousand millions of men all put together could have suffered. He endured, indeed, the hells of all for whom he died, the torments, or the equivalent for the torments, which all of them ought to have suffered—the eternal wrath of God condensed and put into a cup, too bitter for mortal tongue to know, and then drained to its utmost dregs by the loving lips of Jesus. Beloved, this was love. “Herein is love, that while we were yet sinners, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” This Christ has done, and he is, therefore demonstrated to be the friend of sinners.

… he will never love you less—he cannot love you more.

If you will select me the grossest specimen of humanity, if he be but born of woman, I will have hope of him yet, because the gospel of Christ is come to sinners, and Jesus Christ is come to seek and to save sinners. Electing love has selected some of the worst to be made the best. Redeeming love has bought, specially bought, many of the worst to be the reward of the Saviour’s passion. Effectual grace calls out and compels to come in many of the vilest of the vile; and it is therefore that I have tried tonight to preach my Master’s love to sinners.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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