Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Philipp Ottenburg

When we consider the story of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction in Genesis 18 and 19, it demonstrates God’s just judgment. It is a foreshadowing of what we can expect to happen to our earth in the Great Tribulation or after the Millennium. But we can nonetheless find the Lord’s indescribable grace in these two chapters.

Our Lord was by no means tolerant of the lifestyle of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. That’s why judgment ultimately arrived. When we look at Jesus Christ, we see that He came not for the healthy, but for the sick. For example, he was a friend of tax collectors. He came to save sinners. He bore our judgment. This grace is also found in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Although there was a great outcry over these two cities, and their sin was serious, our Lord proved Himself to be very patient: “Then the LORD said, ‘Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know’” (Gen 18:20-21, ESV).

The “Sons of Thunder,” John and James, would have rained down fire and brimstone on them. But our Lord is merciful and patient. He wanted to examine whether Sodom and Gomorrah’s depravity was really as reported. This is a clear picture of God’s righteousness, because He obviously already knows everything. But we see that our Lord doesn’t just rain down fire on the basis of “fake news,” rumors, and false reports. He looks first, figuratively speaking, and gets a well-balanced view of the situation.

He’s just as patient with you and me. Where we may be attached to worldly things, we can confess and cast them off. Lot would have had the opportunity to start again in the mountains after Sodom. But he apparently didn’t want to. We have this opportunity daily in Jesus Christ. And everything will be forgiven. What a gift!

Today also, God is waiting on judgment, on whether He will find sinners who repent. The Lord was ready to listen to and to answer Abraham’s intercession. He would have spared Sodom for the sake of ten righteous people. When judgment came, He sent an angel to save Lot and his family, even though He hadn’t found even ten righteous.

Yes, we know that there is grace in abundance where the measure of sin has become full (Rom 5:20). We must not forget that Jesus Christ also died for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. He died for the wicked (1 Pet 3:18). Even today, Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners. We can only be saved by believing in Him and His work on Calvary.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24).

Abraham interceded and Lot was saved, with his family. Jesus Christ died on the cross so that many can live. Even today, He stands before God the Father in the place of His redeemed. Lot and his family were few, but they owed salvation to Abraham. We belong to many millions of the redeemed, who owe eternal life to one person: Jesus Christ.

It was an ordinary day; the people of Sodom were going about their daily lives. They were eating and drinking, were marrying and being given in marriage, and suddenly fire fell from the sky (cf. Luke 17:28-29). This is a warning for us and our world today. We don’t know how long it will be until our Lord comes. That’s why the call of Isaiah 55:6-7 is all the more important, and we want to shape our lives in light of it:

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

Midnight Call - 07/2020

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