Let us continue to “consider Jesus.” (Heb. 3:1)
Matt. 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
Luke 7:34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!’”
The charge that Jesus was a friend of sinners is at once a false and slanderous charge and the most true and wonderful affirmation ever.
The Jewish enemies of Jesus thought that He was too close to those who they felt were entirely given over to sin. They did not recognize that Jesus was with those in sin to teach them, to restore them, to heal them. “And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” (Mark 2:17)
So Jesus was in fact the greatest friend to sinners that there ever was. He loved, helped, taught, encouraged, uplifted and saved sinners like no one ever did, but did so truly without ever approving or partaking in their sins.
So a friend to, a participant in, sin: No, never. It’s a scurrilous charge. A friend, a true helper, to sinners: Marvelously, Yes.