Yes, yes, yes! Jesus did hang out with sinners, with prostitutes and the dishonest tax collectors!
The Son of Man came eating and drinking [with others], and they say, “Behold, a glutton and a wine drinker, a friend of tax collectors and [especially wicked] sinners!” (Matthew 11:19)
And yes, He never condemned them. He always met them where they were at. He accepted them and loved them unconditionally! And He still does, today! I am so thankful He once met me where I was at!
But this is where many people draw the line.
Jesus always expected a change of heart AND repentance!
And when people did not do this, He got all worked up! Yes, He did!
Then He (Jesus) began to censure and reproach the cities in which most of His mighty works had been performed, because they did not repent [and their hearts were not changed].
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes [and their hearts would have been changed].
I tell you [further], it shall be more endurable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
And you, Capernaum, are you to be lifted up to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades [the region of the dead]! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have continued until today.
But I tell you, it shall be more endurable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
(from Matthew 11)
Another classic example: When Jesus met the woman caught in adultery, He drew a line in the sand. He did not condemn her, but said this: “I do not condemn you either. Go on your way and from now on, sin no more.” (John 8:11)
And when He met Saccheus the dishonest tax collector, the Bible does not mention their conversation, but it mentions Saccheus’ change of heart! When he was in the presence of Jesus, his heart changed and he repented, by saying: “I want to do good. I will give half of my money to the poor. If I have cheated anyone, I will pay them back four times more.” (Luke 19:8)
Jesus accepts and loves us all! But He does not approve when we remain in a state of unchanged and unrepentant hearts!
He will always welcome us back because He loves us so much. He will not leave us where we are at! And as we repent and walk away from the things which displease Him, this He will approve!
This is the Jesus approach. Don’t draw the line too soon!