How Jesus Treated the Lost (Part 2)
In our prior lesson we were beginning to discuss how Jesus was perceived in Luke 7:34ff by the religious elite (who considered themselves perfect). They looked down upon Jesus because He was friendly to sinners.

There was a woman in the city known as a "sinner". We don't know exactly why she came to Simon's house. Perhaps she was looking to have her sins forgiven or perhaps she wanted to express appreciation for something Jesus had done for her. There is one thing that we do know for certain: she loved the Lord! She washed His feet with her tears, dried His feet with the hairs of her head, and anointed His feet with expensive ointment.

Simon witnessed all this and concluded that Jesus could not have been a prophet; if He were, He would have known that it was a "sinner" who was touching Him and would have stopped her. Simon would not have anything to do with her because she was a "sinner," and not like him at all (at least not from Simon's perspective).

Jesus starts speaking to Simon in Luke 7:40, trying to teach him a lesson via a parable. Simon believed he was better than this woman. Simon would not have loved Jesus that much if He had forgiven him. In fact, if Jesus had forgiven Simon's sins, he might have been offended. He might have said, "What? Do you mean to imply that I have sins?" Jesus turned to the woman and said - "Your sins are forgiven" (7:48). Her love for Jesus was strong; she realized her sinful state and was thankful for God's grace. She knew she couldn't be saved without God's grace. The Pharisees still hadn't learned that lesson.

There is more that could be said about this passage in Luke (cf. the archives from 07/31/06 and 08/01/06 ), but the main point we're focusing on now is: How did Jesus treat lost people? He treated this woman like she was a fellow human being made in the image of God, and one whose sins could be forgiven. She was treated with respect and compassion. This is an example of how Jesus was a friend of sinners! It's not that He participated in their wicked deeds or condoned such; He did not. However, He was friendly to them and attentive to their needs.

In Coil's lesson, he relayed a personal story on this theme. Let me read his thoughts to you for your consideration:

"Years ago I was in a certain city, and there was a man there who mistreated his wife and children. He did not beat them, but he mistreated them. His wife was a very faithful worker and a good friend of ours and often kept our little ones when I would need my wife with me. She would come in sometimes and cry about the way this man treated her. He was a politician in the bad sense of the word, a drunkard, a womanizer, and just a lot of things. I nearly despised him. I held him in contempt, I guess. I could barely treat him civilly. When I thought very much about him I felt like I would have enjoyed, maybe not wringing his neck, but shaking him until his teeth literally rattled and saying, "Man, straighten up and look what you're doing!" Guess how much influence I had on him? He was not a dummy. I thought he had a very cunning mind. I'd say now he had a good mind. He sensed how I felt about him and he returned it with interest. He did not even try to hide his contempt for me. I had exactly zero influence on him. The years went by and one day I was visiting in the area. One evening, I thought, I'll call ole so-and-so and see if that rascal has died yet or straightened up or what. I called over there and his wife said, "No, he's not here, he's over at the club. He'll be home in a little bit, probably be drunk." And I said, "Well, I thought I'd drop by and see you all." She said, "Well, he's on his way home, just come right on over." And I got there about five minutes before he did and she said, "Now, you understand he'll probably be nearly drunk." And I said, "Yes, I understand." That did not bother me. She said, "I think I ought to tell you that he also has sclerosis of the liver." And she named some other things. Suddenly I felt a little twinge of compassion. I think I thought he was getting away with something, that he's living it up and I wondered why the Lord did not do something to him. I felt indignation about the way he treated his wife, and suddenly I saw that she is lovelier than ever, stronger than ever. He had broken her heart about forty or fifty times, and the Lord just welded it up and the weld was stronger than before. He blessed this wife and children, and they had become upright, God-fearing citizens while the husband just continued to break his health and destroy himself. When he came in that night, for the first time I felt just a twinge, not much, but just a twinge of compassion. I began to try to be his friend, and in less than a year he obeyed the gospel. In the years I had preached in that area in probably twenty-five evangelistic efforts, he had never been out to hear me preach. When I began trying to be his friend, suddenly he came out to hear me preach. He came in one night and sat on the very front row. I thought he would have left. The auditorium was filled and he had to sit on the front. It astounded me that he would sit there. Until I changed my attitude and he sensed it, I had no influence with him. You know, we might be more like Jesus if we tried to make friends with some people who need the gospel so urgently.