In Matthew chapter 9 we meet Matthew himself as one of the “tax collectors” and sinners. The religious leaders didn’t like Jesus hob-knobbing with these men. Whenever the tax collectors were referred to as a group that Jesus associated with they were called “tax collectors” and “sinners.” Those two works seemed to have gone together. In chapter 11, we see the phrase again. John the Baptist message is rejected because he’s a crazy man in the wilderness, fasting and dressing strange and looking strange and living a very ascetic kind of life. They said he was possessed by a demon. Jesus came eating and partying, in contrast to John. They rejected him also. In verse 19 they call Jesus “friend of tax collectors and sinners!”

Isaiah 53 says that the savior “was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” I think this is the reason he’s such a good friend of sinners. He knows what we’re going through. The old Hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus” is over 150 years old and is still sung in many churches today. There’s great comfort in the thought that Jesus is a friend of sinners. As the best of friends he’s always there for me.

What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Ev’rything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Ev’rything to God in prayer! Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer: Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our ev’ry weakness, Take it to the Lord in prayer. Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; Take it to the Lord in prayer: Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; In His arms He’ll take and shield thee; Thou wilt find a solace there.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15