Do Your Best: Bible Study

You have likely had someone tell you in the past to “do your best” in the realm of sports, chores, and your work. Maybe these words were spoken as advice to you even as a spouse or a parent. We all know the feeling of approaching a task or a relationship and feeling inadequate for the job. That sinking feeling that even if we did the very best we could do, we still might not do it “right”.

When you consider your Bible study ask yourself the question, “Am I really doing my best?” The question is not, “Do I think that Bible study is important?” The question is not, “Do I believe I should give my best effort in Bible study?” The question is… “Am I REALLY doing the best that I can?”

There are some warning signs that I think we should be aware of. Signs that might tell us that we are not really doing the best that we can. Signs that might tell us that we should start doing better.

Not opening your Bible every single day

If we are not spending time in the word every day, can we really say we are doing our best? Do we eat every day? do we sleep every night? Do we speak to our spouse every day? Do we watch TV each evening? Do we keep up with the news in the world of sports? If you are comfortable going a day without hearing from the Lord, there is a strong possibility that you are not doing your best.

Studying with the conclusions in mind

A book published in 2010 “The Invisible Gorilla” highlights a fascinating study. The short version is that people were told to count the number of times that students passed a basketball back and forth. While the students were passing the ball back and forth a Gorilla appeared beating it’s chest. The majority of the viewers did not even see the Gorilla. They didn’t see the Gorilla because that isn’t what they were looking for. When we study our Bibles looking to prove a point or “defend a position” we are likely to miss a Gorilla or two along the way. True study demands that we approach the text with an open mind, ready to be led wherever it goes, not where we want it to take us.

Placing heavy emphasis on what others believe

I don’t know why we are the way that we are but, we are. Perhaps it is our desire to have validation or maybe it is a shortcut to doing the study for ourselves. Far too often we (including me) are guilty of rushing to a commentary, or to our preacher for explanation. I have a library full of commentaries, they can be very helpful. I have tremendous respect for fellow ministers and I continually seek their counsel. There is certainly nothing wrong with any of that. Where we get into trouble is where we elevate the viewpoints of another for either positive or negative. Example: “Brother _________ believes this so it must be right.” or “_________ believes this so it must be wrong!”. Honest students of scripture will come to terms with the fact that those who they hold in high regard might be mistaken on some things and those whom they hold in low regard might be correct on some things. Who believes something, is not an indicator of truthfulness. Reading from others/seeking counsel is always encouraged. Just don’t allow that to become “the factor” in your study.

Over simplifying

I have encountered many who view every single topic as simple, easy to understand with a clear “right” and a clear “wrong”. There is real danger in this. There is danger in this kind of thinking because it goes against what scripture actually teaches.

2 Timothy 2:15- Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 

As Paul writes to Timothy concerning things that he must remind the church of and charge them with, he also instructs Timothy to use wisdom in avoiding silly controversies and quarrels. How is Timothy to be able to do all of that? By doing his best. If every topic/passage in scripture was simple then Timothy wouldn’t need to do his best. His best would be overkill.

You and I are not Timothy, but I believe the principle would still apply to God’s people, and certainly for ministers. Bible study that takes into account the immediate and remote context, cultural events that are being addressed, political tension that is present in the text, original meaning of the words that were used in the inspired text, and understanding which covenant is being dealt with within each passage of scripture is hard work. Then we must work to understand what the original audience would have understood that passage to teach before we ever attempt to apply it to our lives. Why should we place so much effort into it? Because true study, demands our best.

Over the coming weeks, we will talk more about the “How To” of Bible study. Until then, let’s keep our “thinking caps” on and work to remove the “warning signs” that may have found their way into our life. Let’s be people of the book.

in Him,


Why We Need to Stop “Using” The Bible

In my last post “Filled with Scripture and Ignorance” we discussed how it is not only possible to be filled with Bible verses and ignorance at the same time, but discussed the fact that it is quite common. If you have not read that post first, please go back to that one then come back here. We discussed in that post how Jesus spoke to the Jews in John 5 concerning the fact that they searched the scriptures… But they missed the fact that the scriptures were talking about Him.

This is a real and present danger that Christians face today, where we can search the scriptures, and still miss the point. What a terrifying thought! I know that I have been guilty of it in the past, and I would bet that many of you have been as well. Since we know that it is a problem… what do we do about it?

In future articles we will be discussing some principles for good Bible study to help keep us on the right track. But first, I wanted to spend a little more time dealing with why this topic matters so much.

What is meant by the title of this article? Stop using the Bible?!? Let me assure you that I am not, nor would I ever, encourage someone not to read, study, or apply the Bible. What I am suggesting is that we change our mindset, and we stop “using” the Bible. Stop the endless search for “proof texts” to prove that our “positions” are correct and others are wrong. (Side Note: Let’s stop “taking positions” in the first place. Let us strive to always be true to the text regardless of what that means for “our position”. We aren’t defenders of positions, we are proclaimers of the Gospel.)

Throughout my ministry I have been asked many questions concerning faith. Some of those questions can be quite revealing. Questions such as:

“What is a verse that proves Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins?”

“What scripture do I need to show my friend who believes that Hell isn’t real?”

How can I prove that God is real?”

“Which passage of scripture can I use to prove why the _________ church is wrong in their beliefs?”

These questions, and many like them have been asked repeatedly. I appreciate so much the love that many have for their friends and for God. Their desire to follow God, and teach others about His will is admirable, and we need more people like them in the church. However, there is a fundamental problem with all of these questions… They begin with the conclusion in mind.

When you begin “searching scripture” knowing exactly the answer that you are looking for, you are likely to find a verse that affirms your belief. Without fail, this leads to abuse of the text. I want to submit that we reframe the way we approach the Bible in study. We no longer “use” the Bible. Rather, we open our heart to it.

What does it mean to open your heart to the Bible? First and foremost, it means that you are willing to admit that you may be wrong in what you believe regarding a particular subject. Ask yourself honestly, “Might I be wrong about______?” If you conclude that there is no way you could be wrong, close your Bible. Individuals who “use” the Bible destroy their credibility in the eyes of all who hear them. Humble your mind, open your heart, and study.

There are many compelling reasons to reframe our approach and move far, FAR away from “using the Bible”, But for our purposes here, I want to deal with one reason.

“Using” the Bible, keeps us from seeing what God wants us to see

Often times in our effort to prove a point or to make a stand, we can strip passages from their true meaning, which is always far greater than the point we are attempting to make. More than 10 years ago, I attended a men’s conference that had a powerful theme, “Standing in the Gap”. The point of the conference was simple. There is a leadership void within the church today and God is looking for men to step up, to be leaders, to fill the gap. Don’t be like the people we read about in Ezekiel, because no one would step up and fill that gap!

It was a great weekend. There were some inspiring lessons that helped stir my heart and challenged me to be a better man. I have often wondered if the men who based their conference on Ezekiel 22:30 knew what the passage was and was NOT saying.

Ezekiel 22:30 ESV

30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.

This text was “used” to talk about God searching for someone to stand up and build, to stand in the gap (breach) of the wall, but no one would. No one would do what needed to be done. Today, we have many things that need to be done, God is looking for men to stand in that gap. It’s a good sentiment, certainly there are many things that need to be done, and few who are willing to do it. However, that isn’t what is taking place in Ezekiel. Let’s explore it briefly.

In J.R.R. Tolkein’s series, “The Lord of The Rings” he depicts a battle scene at a strong fortress known as “Helm’s deep”. The good guys knew that they were severely outnumbered. So they retreated to this strong hold. They set their archers up on the wall of Helm’s Deep and hoped for the best. Once the enemy was able to breach the wall, it seemed all hope was lost and the casualties began to pile up. Once they could no longer keep the evil outside, but it came inside the result was lot’s of pain and death. In the context of this passage in Ezekiel we know that the walls of Israel had been breached by sin.

Ezekiel was written a few years after Babylon began its seige on Israel. It’s around the time period of Daniel 1. Israel has already taken some major hits, and is about to fall completely. Ezekiel was in one of the first groups to be led away from Israel, and so the setting of Ezekiel is a dark one. We read earlier in chapter 22 of some of the many sins that Israel had allowed to go unchecked. Sins such as: The shedding of blood, disobedience to parents, extortion, various sexual sins etc. They were in a mess Then came the most grievous of all their sin, they had forgotten God (Ezekiel 22:12).

God was angry, He was brokenhearted. He couldn’t stand to see His children turn their back on Him and give their hearts to the world. He sought for one who could turn the tide.

Let’s examine the language of this text again.

Ezekiel 22:30 ESV

30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.

What was God searching for? Someone who would “build up the wall” someone who would “stand in the breach”… But notice what was significant about this posture the one who would stand in the breach would be standing Before God and for the land. Keep in mind that the destruction that was happening to Israel was happening because of their sin. God gave Israel over into the hands of their enemies. God sought for one who could stand “before Him” on behalf of, or “for” the land. In other words, who could stand between God (The oppressor) and Israel? The answer? No one.

This text is not an indictment against Israel saying that there were no good men left. In fact, at the time of this statement, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jeremiah were all living. God was not saying that there were “no good men” God was saying, there was no one who could do what needed to be done in order to save them from destruction. What was it that needed to be done? Standing between God and the people. Someone that could take God’s wrath and spare the people. Someone who could be “in the middle”. Sound like anyone we know of? Jesus, the Christ. You see, what Israel lacked then, we do not lack now!

Now, If we strip this text down to teach that we need “real men who will stand in the gap” we are placing emphasis on ourselves, and our ability to stand in this gap. However, the text is clear… Even God’s chosen spokesmen could not do what needed to be done. For you and I, thousands of years removed from that story we can look back on that passage and rejoice in Jesus because we have someone who has stood in that gap for us, doing what we could not.

When we “use” the Bible, we often miss the true beauty of what God has revealed. Let us resolve to stop “using” the Bible, and approach this precious collection of books that God has given to us with an open heart and a humble mind.

in Him,


Filled With Scripture & Ignorance


Filled with scripture and ignorance? That seems oxymoronic, does it not? After all, we know that the sum of God’s word is truth. We know that the scriptures have been “breathed out” by God. We believe that the words of God are as a lamp unto our feet. How could someone be filled with scripture and ignorance? It is more common than we might think. 

Consider with me a couple of examples. One from the Bible, and one from my own life. 

When we turn our New Testaments to the Gospel of John, and we read the 5th chapter the world that we are stepping into is very different from our own. It is a world that would look quite strange to us. We see the pagan influence on the culture as we read about a pool, that supposedly had mystical/miraculous healing powers. So many of the sick, paralyzed, and afflicted people would gather around and wait for their chance to be healed. Then, Jesus entered the picture and for one man, everything changed. Jesus healed a man who hadn’t been able to walk for 38 years! Possibly, all of his life. What a sight that must have been! Can you picture the joy on this man’s face? Can you hear his shouts of triumph? Can you picture the nonstop tears of joy flowing from his face? 

However, this story wasn’t all “sunshine and rainbows”. Many Jews began causing some heartache for this man as well as for Jesus. Why? Because the healing took place on the Sabbath. Not only did Jesus heal on the Sabbath, but He even had the audacity to claim that God was His father! Jesus began a lengthy explanation to His accusers concerning His inability to do anything without the Father, He speaks about coming Judgement, He speaks about resurrection, He speaks precious words of life. Then, He makes a statement that should give all believers pause —

John 5:39 ESV

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

Notice what Jesus just said? He is addressing people who search the scriptures. He is addressing people who believe that in the scriptures, they will find life. These people, who searched the scriptures and had a high view of the scriptures… missed the whole point. They missed the Son! They missed the savior. They missed Jesus. 

These people were no doubt sincere in their searching of the scriptures, and they obviously had a high view of the text, but yet… They still “missed it”. 

Now it is my turn. 14 years ago I walked into my office for the very first time. I couldn’t believe it. I was now a “minister” I had the title and everything. I sat behind my desk and began to think about what I would preach this coming Sunday. I could think of no better topic with which to “kickoff my ministry” than to preach about the “Word of God”. I wanted to make sure that I held up the scriptures high. I wanted to make sure that I spoke about the inspiration of the scripture, so I went to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. I wanted to make sure I let the people know that the Bible and only the Bible could serve as a lamp unto their feet. So, I went to Psalms 119:105 For the final point that I wanted to drive home, I went no other place than–

Hebrews 4:12 ESV

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Why? Because I wanted to assure the congregation that the Bible is living and active. It has an ability to cut to the heart. It has the ability to sort out our thoughts and intentions if we will allow it to. We need to cling to the Bible for these reasons. I was proud of that sermon. So proud in fact, that I believe I preached it a few more times in various locations. 

There is a tricky thing to keep in mind when studying the scriptures. Context. It changes everything, and yes… Context can sure ruin a good sermon. There was a problem with my preaching that sermon. I ignored context. As a result I made some applications that the original authors were not actually making. I’ll leave it to you to study those texts and arrive at how they should rightly be applied. The point is, I wanted to make some “points” and I went to certain verses to prove my points. The points I was trying to make weren’t bad, but they were not always the same points that the original author intended to make.

There are many more obvious passages that I have quoted in my preaching through the earlier years without realizing the context, or the proper meaning, for instance, did you know that Phil 4:13 is not a pep talk before a football game? Of course you know that, but sadly, there was a time that I didn’t think twice about quoting the passage in that context. 

Back to the point. When I was baptized into Christ I was given a “ready reference” that had lists of verses to go to to discuss any subject, generally aimed at “proving a point”. In some ways, this was helpful to me as I began to grow in Christ. It was helpful for me to see “why” we believed certain things that we believed. It wasn’t a bad tool to have. However, when we begin our study of a given topic with the conclusion in mind, we are often blind to what is in front of our eyes. 

It can be tempting for preachers to litter their sermons with 100 scripture references (I know, I’ve done it) in order to “prove” a point or worse, in order to “sound better”. It can be tempting as listeners ( I know, I’ve done it) to hear sermons like that and think, “Man! That guy knows his Bible!” and walk away more impressed with the messenger than we are the message. 

My challenge for myself and for you is a simple one. Do your best every time you approach the Bible, to take off your blinders. Empty your mind of “conclusions” until the study has been done. Do not ever, in preaching or personal study set out to “prove” a point. Set out to see, know, understand, and follow God. We all have biases. We all have a few scriptures that are ready to be quoted from memory that may not mean what we think they mean. Let’s learn from the Jews in John 5. Let’s not be content with searching the scriptures but missing the point. Even if that means that the context of a passage is going to ruin my next sermon… it probably wasn’t a good sermon in the first place. 🙂 Let’s press on to greater study, and love for the text. 

in Him,


“Church: Something is Wrong, and It Hurts”

Yoga practice as a band aid – babycrowyoga

I fear that something inside of us is broken. I am not speaking about the institution of the church, I am speaking about us, as the sinful individuals that sometimes mess it up. This is something that has weighed on my heart for some time, and I cannot hold my tongue any longer. We need to talk about it.

*Note: I love you with everything that I am. That, is why I am writing this letter. I want you to be who our Lord designed you to be, and yes, I am writing this to me as well as to you. This is not aimed at anyone in particular, rather, it is aimed at a diseased mindset (let’s call it “stinkin thinkin”) that I have watched grow through the years*

Perhaps, the best way for me to begin to say what is in my heart, is to ask you to remember a man we read about in Acts 18. His name is Apollos. Apollos was everything you would want in a preacher/teacher of God’s Word. The Bible tells us, he was very eloquent in speech. Don’t you prefer listening to eloquent speakers? (It’s ok, you can admit it.) He was passionate, not just a “happy to be here” attitude, the man was on fire for Jesus! Those people are a joy to be around. 

The Bible tells us that he was competent in the scriptures (that’s pretty important!). Then we read that Apollos did the unthinkable. Are you ready for it? Brace yourselves, it’s not pretty. 

Acts 18:25 (ESV)

25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.

Did you read what I just read? Here is a man, who is one of those energetic, charismatic, eloquent speaking guys. The crowds love him. You hear him preach and you can’t believe what you hear. This man is preaching publicly… a wrong message. He is not just preaching something you disagree with, he is messing up the truth about Baptism!

Now, let’s stop the story. Let’s pretend you hear a man preach this sermon. What is your reaction? 

Sadly, the normal reaction would be to call this man a false teacher. Label the man as liberal. Assassinate his character. Assume the man hasn’t poured his heart and soul into his study, but is just teaching nonsense because he thinks it’s what the people want. Or you could let the world around you know that you care about the Bible but he does not! He just ignores it! You could tell the world that you have the “sound doctrine” and this man is only trying to “please men.” 

Boy, we are good at letting men like this “have it”, aren’t we? We are the kings of “cancel culture” in this arena. Someone steps out of line from what has been taught before… canceled. Where did this sense of duty come from? Surely, that is how the first century church handled this issue…. right? Let’s check back in with the text.

Acts 18:26–28 (ESV)

26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouragedhim and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

Did you just read what I read? Here we have Christians who heard a false teaching being proclaimed publicly, and they handled it by… Taking the man off to the side, in private and studying with him? They didn’t yell at him? They didn’t mark him as a false teacher? They didn’t tell everyone around not to listen to him, because he couldn’t be trusted? Weren’t they worried about the problems that could create? 

It appears they were more focused on that man’s soul and the souls of those that he would influence in the future. 


Before anyone gets the wrong idea… I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and that it is God’s only revealed will to mankind. I believe that I can be wrong and the Bible is always right. I believe we should strive with all that we are to understand it’s riches. I am not “ok” with false teaching where it exists. I am also not ok with handling difficult situations in an ungodly manner. I am outraged at the thought of handling situations differently than Christ would handle them, all the while, doing so “in the name of Christ.” 

  • A father attends a youth rally with his son, looking forward to a time of encouraging worship and study to help the boy grow stronger in his love for Jesus. Yet, the sermon is anything but encouraging. The sermon does not amount to much more than complaining about “culture” and demonizing people who are outside of Christ. Rather than leaving encouraged, this small family walks away angry, confused, and if anything… feeling more distant from the one they came to be near. 
  • A preacher fresh out of school, cannot contain his excitement to begin speaking from the scriptures in a deep and meaningful way. Only to be told that something he said was “not sound”. When he asks, what was wrong with what he preached, he is not met with reasoned explanation from the text. He is told that it didn’t match what their favorite preacher used to say. No scripture is given, but the young preacher learns that to many people, “Sound teaching” simply means, “Teaching that I agree with.”
  • Something is said in the assembly on Sunday morning, and the next thing you know, it is on social media. Someone is now “calling out” the person who said the “unspeakable thing.” You reach out (privately) to this person who is venting publicly and encourage them to keep the matter private, (in keeping with biblical principles.) They retort, “The teaching was public! The rebuke will be public!” I’m still waiting to see that as a Biblical way to treat a brother in Christ, because that certainly isn’t how it was handled in Acts 18.  

I could go on, but I do not want to. I want to point out, that I fear that there are some who have lost their way. There are some who think that the world will know that we belong to Jesus if we condemn all the false teaching. They forget that the world will know us by our love. (John 13:35). There are some that want to spend all their time focusing on “pet topics”, and their emphasis on these tend to elevate their status. When Paul would say with zeal, “I decided to know nothing among you except for Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2

As disciples of Jesus, we have a mission (Matthew 28:18-20). If we want to bring God glory in our mission we must SHOW our love for one another (John 13:35) We must fade into the background as we elevate our king (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Simple suggestions for each of us:

  • Preachers, spend less time bashing culture and more time exalting Jesus. You can do one without the other. One tears people down, while one gives people life. 
  • Christian, love your brother. Even the ones that you disagree with.
  • Christian, if you ever have a problem with something someone has said or done. Do what Jesus would tell you to do. Go to them alone and try to win your brother (Matthew 18:25). (Name calling, blame shifting, and public bickering do not count.) Please Christian, stop naming reasons that you won’t follow Jesus’ words on this point. Far too many are unwilling to speak to the person face to face as the Lord said, but are all too willing to gossip with their friends. If you do not handle these situations the Lord’s way, it is best that you avoid them altogether. 
  • Christian, do not neglect to study. Sometimes, maybe sometimes… I can’t believe I’m going to say it… Here it goes… Sometimes, that brother that you thought was teaching “unsound doctrine” was right, and you were wrong. I have been the “wrong” brother more times than I care to admit, that is how I know this painful truth. 

Allow me to leave you with one thought from the apostle Peter – 1 Peter 3:8- Finally, all of you, have unity of mindsympathybrotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.[1]

Peter wrote these words in the context of relationships and suffering. He deals with all kinds of relationships. Marriage relationships, relationship with government, masters, elders and the church under their care. Peter offers these words a lens through which to see and interact with each other. The next time you see or hear something with which you disagree, whether it be presented in private study, in the assembly, or online. Pass your response through this filter:

  • Is my response going to help or harm the unity in the church? (unity)
  • Have I taken a moment to truly consider the other person? What is going on in their life, their perspective, their reasoning, their emotion? If not, I am not qualified to speak on the issue at hand. (Sympathy)
  • Have I prayed for this person and their soul? Have I done anything, anything, to show this person that I love them? (Brotherly love)
  • How can I show my love and concern for this person so that they will know they can trust me? (tender-hearted) – Think Pricilla and Aquilla in Acts 18
  • Have I considered that I might be wrong? No, I’m not asking if you quickly reminded yourself that you are right. Have you really considered that you might be wrong? Only a (humble mind) can do that. Only a humble mind can still be taught. 

Church, I love you. I am eternally grateful for the countless blessings that I have received from the Lord, through you during my lifetime. The vast majority of my brothers and sisters are not only great models of what is written here, but have taught me better how to be more like this (I still have a long ways to go). The future of the church is bright because our King is on His throne. I am honored to call you my family. Please consider this letter as nothing more than an encouragement to myself and my closest friends/family to eliminate the “stinkin thinkin” from our lives, and be better at treating people the way Jesus would. Let’s do everything that we can to build up His kingdom. Remember, you cannot build the church with a wrecking ball. 


Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Friend of sinnersReligious people, have often fallen in the trap of being hypocrites, and holier than thou. It was true in the days of Jesus, and if we are not careful, it can be true of us today as well. In Luke chapter 7 this is pointed out clearly. Many people mocked John the Baptist because he did not look like them. He did not dress like them. He did not eat and drink like them. V. 33 tells us that because of John’s abstaining from these things many people accused him of having a demon. In their mind, it was the only explanation for his actions.


Jesus enters the picture. He isn’t dressed like John the Baptist. He is behaving differently, in fact, He is found eating with “tax collectors and sinners.” Now, these same people who mocked John the Baptist for abstaining from certain things and activities are chastising Jesus for doing the opposite. In their rage against Christ, they mocked Him. They called Him a glutton and a drunkard. They called Him a “friend to tax collectors and sinners.”


I would submit to you that the label that they gave Him, “friend of sinners” although they meant it in the negative, Christ took as a compliment. Jesus was (and is) a friend to sinners. I for one am grateful for this!


What being a friend to sinners means:


         Naturally, there are those that want to apply their own ideas as to what it means to be a friend to sinners. They may twist a verse here and there and abuse this idea. Some will teach that in order to win the lost, Jesus joined them in their lifestyle. Meaning that He either participated in or gave approval to their sin.

Jesus did not in Luke 7, nor any other text participate or give approval to sin. However, He did go out of His way to make sure that the sinner was, and felt, loved.


He wanted them to feel important: As we read of the lowly tax collector named Zacchaeus in Luke 19. A man that was despised by many for his profession, and possibly for personal corruption. We find Jesus singling out this little man saying, “I’m going to your house today.”

He wanted them to be heard: We read of a lengthy dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Not only did Jews not typically pass through Samaria, they did not speak to the Samaritans. When Jesus came, that changed.

He wanted to calm the fearful: In John 3 we read of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by the cover of night. The text does not tell us for certain, but it isn’t a stretch to assume he did so out of fear of being seen with Jesus. What does Jesus talk to him about? He spoke to him about being born again so he could see the kingdom of heaven.

He wanted to show love when no one else did: John chapter 8 details for us a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. A mob brings this woman to Jesus to test Him and see what needs to be done with her. After causing the angry mob to look at their own sinfulness, Jesus told her to go and sin no more.


What motivated Jesus to be a friend to sinners?


We must keep in mind in this discussion that never once was Jesus friendly toward sin. He was however friendly toward the sinner. Why? Simply put, He valued their soul.

Jesus was painfully aware of man’s lost condition. So much so that He spoke more about it than any one else in the NT. Out of the 14 times that the Greek word for Hell (γέεννα ) is used 12 times it is used by Jesus Himself. He knows better than anyone that people are lost and it broke His heart. It led Him to being a friend to those who needed it the most.


How can we, be a friend to sinners?

         We start by determining to actively seek souls: We must stop with the idea that “If people really want to know the truth, they know where to find us.” No, they don’t. They don’t know what the truth is, and they sure don’t know where to find it. We must take it to them.

In John 4:4 in the text dealing with the Samaritan woman we find an interesting phrase. The Bible tells us that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” If you look at a map, the quickest way for Him to get to Galilee from Judea was to pass through Samaria. Some have speculated that perhaps He was in a hurry and that is why He broke the custom of going the long way around to avoid the Samaritans. However, in V.40 the people asked Him to stay, and so He stayed for two days. It is apparent that Jesus “had to” pass through Samaria not because He was in a hurry, but because He needed to go to the lost.


We need to prioritize people over our schedule: Examine Matthew chapter 8-9 in your spare time. Look at all the interactions that Jesus had with people needing His help. He healed the leper, the centurion’s servant, healed the multitudes, calmed the storm, healed demon possessed men, healed the paralytic, answered doctrinal questions, healed blind men, healed the man unable to speak. Time after time, Jesus put people over His schedule.

Jesus was a friend to sinners. No, He did not sin. No, He did not condone sin. He did however, offer love, compassion, and help to those who were in sin. As a man who has sinned, I am eternally grateful for Jesus’ friendship with sinners. It is my prayer that the church collectively and individually will do a better job of extending friendship to those who are lost.

in Him,