We all know Jesus as Savior, as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). We know him as God’s one and only Son (Matthew 3:13-17) and the full representation of God himself (Hebrews 1:3). What we don’t spend a lot of time talking about is the type of companion and friend Jesus is to those who know him well. Jesus himself said that he came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He didn’t come to earth to criticize or control mankind. He came to save us. Let’s take a look at several examples of this in the Bible.
- (Luke 19:1-10) The story of Zacchaeus the tax collector is a great place to start when studying the companionship of Jesus. We see that Jesus did not balk at speaking with Zacchaeus even though he was an outcast in Jewish society. As a tax collector, he would have been hated by his own people. Even so, Jesus befriended him and asked to stay at Zacchaeus’ house. Apparently, Jesus had such a strong impact on him that Zacchaeus decided to pay back four-fold those he had swindled. Zacchaeus may have had an integrity problem as a tax collector, but Jesus still loved him anyway.
- (Matthew 9:9-13) We have another example of Jesus befriending a tax collector when he called Matthew as one of his disciples. For Jesus to approach Matthew at his tax booth and even speak to him would’ve been considered taboo. It’s likely that Matthew had already heard of Jesus and his amazing miracles and teaching, because when Jesus calls him, Matthew follows immediately. Not only is he affected by Jesus’ friendship, he realizes that others need to meet Jesus too. He plans a dinner at his house and invites all his tax collector and “sinful” friends to meet Jesus. That’s the kind of effect being a companion can have on others.
- (John 4:1-26) Finally, we can look at the story of the Samaritan woman at the well as a fine example of Jesus’ loving response to a sinful person. The fact that he, a Jew, would even speak to a Samaritan is beyond belief, but Jesus seems to go out of his way to carry on a conversation with her and make her feel at ease. Sure, she was considered used goods in her day, but Jesus took the time to minister to what her real needs were. She came to quench her thirst, but Jesus came to give her true living water.
The gospels are filled with stories such as these of Jesus being a companion to the outcasts of the world. When everyone in the religious establishment of that time were being critical of these sinners, Jesus was there to show them that they were loved and that they really do matter to God. Notice also that nowhere in the Bible did Jesus endorse anyone’s immoral behavior. In all cases, he encouraged people to leave their sinful past behind them. But he doesn’t take the opportunity to pass criticizing judgment either. There will be a time that Jesus will judge (Matthew 25:31-33), but he gives all sinners the chance to repent and follow him.
How are you in your relationship with others? Are you a critic or companion? Critics are bent on passing judgment, not helping someone who is lost and in need of help. Companions, on the other hand, realize where they’ve come from (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and are willing to lend a hand to those who’ve fallen into the trap of sin. They don’t take a hypocritical stance regarding their perceived religiosity (Matthew 7:1-5), but are willing to do whatever it takes to save souls (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). It would be wise to keep the following passage in mind…
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”