In John 15:14, Jesus states, “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.” This statement tends to beg the question: how does this verse affect the common idea of Jesus being a friend of sinners? So I consulted Scripture further to find the answer to this burning question.
In Matthew 11:19, Jesus is repeating what those who hated Him were saying about Him, that He was a “glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” When coupled with verses 18 and 19, Jesus is pointing out how His haters tended to exaggerate the truth regarding His actions. Furthermore, James 4:4 states that whoever wants “to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
These verses surely warrant more thought on the matter, and drives home the importance of knowing the context of Scripture. In a sense, Jesus was indeed a friend of sinners, but not in the manner as most believe. While being a friend of the sinner, He simultaneously loved them enough to point out the sin in their lives, forgave them, and provided a way for them to sin no more. Ultimately, a true friend of Christ loves Him enough to obey His commands and walk in the victory He provides each day.