25 Quotes from *Friendship with the Friend of Sinners*

by Jared C. Wilson September 11, 2023

Are you longing for true connection? The Bible calls Jesus the friend of sinners, but it’s hard to imagine what friendship with Jesus really looks like. How are we supposed to feel that close to a holy, perfect, and invisible God? How do we see Jesus as the real person he is? And how do we experience true friendship with him when we struggle to maintain true friendship on earth?

My new book Friendship with the Friend of Sinners: The Remarkable Possibility of Closeness with Christ explores these questions. Here are 25 quotes from the book that I trust will prompt you to delve deeper:

1. “In a very real way, at the moment I most deserved to be utterly alone and rejected, Jesus came into that room, sat on the floor next to me, put his arm around me, and said, ‘It’s going to be okay.’At the lowest moment of my life, I came face-to-face with my real self. And I came face-to-face with the truest friend. I found him true because at that moment I had the least to offer him.” – p.14

2. “Biblically speaking, of course, Christianity is both religion and relationship. In fact, these categories, properly understood, are not so distinguishable from each other, and it turns out each must fuel the other. A relationship with Jesus without a commitment to his commands, to his church and her ordinances, to his shaping of our entire lives through the (even imperfect) pursuit of disciplines according to his like- ness isn’t the kind of relationship he desires from us. Similarly, a Christian religion without a spiritual hunger for his grace, a humble surrender to his character, and a desperate desire for intimacy with his very presence is just religiosity.” – p.18

3. “The less we become like Jesus, the less we will understand how to do real friendship.” – p.25

4. “The truth is, we’re all terrible friends to Jesus. But he is still the truest friend we could have.” – p.31

5. “The reality of friendship with Jesus depends on a serious reckoning with the reality of Jesus. Most of us, Christians included, however, have grown accustomed to conducting a relationship with the idea of Jesus. But Jesus is a real person.” – p.44

6. “As the aim of spiritual growth in Christianity is to become more conformed to the image of Christ, it behooves us to remember that for Christ to be made real in us, we must be drawing near to a real Christ.” – p.52

7. “We can come to the Bible for more knowledge, and that’s fine. Its facts are impeccable. We can come to the Bible for artistry, and that’s fine. Its words are beautiful. We can come to the Bible for instructions on the religious life, and that too is fine. The law of God is holy and glorious. But if we don’t come to the Word of God for life, we run the risk of dying smart, entertained, and religious.” – pp.56-57

8. “There is no friend closer than Jesus. As we follow him, he never strides too far ahead. He never dodges or ditches us. If we are weary, he slows. If we pull up lame, he stops. If we wander, he circles back. He won’t let us be lost.” – p.61

9. “He has come to dwell among us. He won’t even keep a superior detachment from sinners! He gets up close and personal. He touches people’s sores. He holds their hands. He puts his spit in people’s eyes. You couldn’t keep him at arm’s length if you tried. You certainly cannot cordon him off from your life with chains of flesh or velvet ropes of religion.” – pp.70-71

10. “Remember the good news that God loves sinners. Jesus died for sinners! He isn’t looking for awesome people to unite to himself. He isn’t looking for put-together people for his Spirit to indwell. He isn’t looking for religious people to become brand ambassadors for him. Jesus came to save sinners. He came to unite to himself people who could add nothing to him.” – p.73

11. “Our feelings are no barrier to him.” – p.78

12. “You don’t need a particularly mighty faith to receive the favor of God. Because it isn’t the strength of the faith that saves but the strength of the Savior. If the faith is true, however small, it can lay hold of all the riches of grace in Christ Jesus.” – pp.88-89

13. “He gets so close to the whores and the cheats and the drunkards that he’s accused of their very sins. He’s willing to bear the shame they bear, hear the insults they hear, feel the rejection they feel. Jesus is willing not just to preach to sinners but, risking his own reputation, to be their friend. Indeed, Jesus isn’t just willing to give up his reputation for sinners; he is willing to give up his life.” – p.91

14. “We can’t become like anyone with whom we don’t spend any time. So he draws us to himself. He invites us into his unbothered, undistracted presence.” – p.97

15. “To sit at the feet of Jesus is the highest and best experience we can have. He knows we need to change. He knows we need to produce good fruit and perform good works. But he also knows that none of that matters — or can truly even happen — if we don’t make it a priority to sit still with him and listen.” – p.105

16. “Maturing Christians come not to begrudge the inefficiency of discipleship but to embrace it. We know that the very lament of not being further along is itself a sign of the Spirit’s working in us. The conviction we feel about our sin is a sign of his closeness. The pain we feel in our battle with the flesh is a sign of bearing Christ’s cross. You cannot get close to Jesus without touching his wounds.” – p.108

17. “Every Christian wakes up with Jesus as a ready and eager friend. And no matter how the day has gone — and you might have really blown it! — every Christian goes to bed at night with Jesus as a ready and eager friend.” – p.127

18. “God isn’t keeping score. Because his Son is victorious, so are you. Because his Son is beloved, so are you. And because his Son is eternally resting from the work of atonement, so are you.” – p.132

19. “It was in my lowest, most broken, most desperate devastation that Christ came near in the sweetest grace and care. My sin didn’t surprise him. My blowing up my life did not startle him. He saw it all coming, and in a way, I was on a collision course with a life-changing awakening to the gospel, sovereignly directed by his own will. The truth caught up with me, but so did the grace of God. And when I was most exposed, he was the most tender.” – pp.148-149

20. “Nobody slips through the cracks.” – p.161

21. “This is how our friend Jesus receives our stupid efforts at obedience. We bring the weeds of our works and the mess of our efforts to him, and with the warmest gaze, not even pretending, he says, ‘Oh, how precious!’ He is a gracious Savior. Compared to what he’s given us, he receives so little. But he gladly accepts it all. He receives everything from us with nothing but love.” – p.164

22. “The Giver is himself the gift. And there’s no gift he can give us that can exceed the preciousness and worth of his very self.” – pp.165-166

23. “The closer we walk with him, the more our stride begins to resemble his.” – p.169

24. “The good news is, we aren’t high maintenance to Jesus.” – p.176

25. “Jesus is real. Even now, in our hearts, we can see his face.” – p.212

Friendship with the Friend of Sinners is available now wherever good books are sold.

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