I received an anonymous comment on my Proverbs 29 post. I don't know the motivation of the commenter, but I wouldn't want her to be confused by Scripture in any way, so I would like to take a few minutes to address this issue:
Proverbs 29:3 says,
"A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth."
She said, "Jesus was a companion of prostitutes."
- Let's first look at the 5 different women who could possibly be discussed as a "prostitute" and "companion to Jesus".
- Sinful Woman Who Anointed Jesus (Luke 7:36-50) Location: Nain area (north). A woman who "had lived a sinful life" came to a party at a Pharisee's house that Jesus was attending and anointed his feet. Jesus honored her by contrasting her graciousness with the host's stinginess at the party. Jesus told her, "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace." And as far as we know this is the only encounter between her and Jesus.
- Mary Magdelene (Luke 8:1-3) Location: Galilean countryside (north). She and several other women who had been cured of evil spirits and disease traveled with Jesus and his disciples supporting them financially. She was one of 4 women mentioned at the crucifixion of Jesus and he appeared to her after his resurrection. There was probably no female who was more of a companion to Jesus than Mary Magdelene, but scripture gives no indication that she was a prostitute.
- Woman at the Well (John 4:1-36) Location: Sychar, Samaria. Jesus, ignoring racial prejudices, "bumped" into this woman at the well. After explaining that he had living water, he confronted her sexual promiscuity which included 4 past husbands and living with a man who wasn't her husband. It is quite profound that he admitted to her he was the long-awaited Messiah! She told the whole town about him, and as far as we know they never had another encounter.
- Woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) Location: Mount of Olives, near Bethany (south). She was brought to Jesus by the Pharisees to pose a question to him. We know by the text that she was committing adultery, which does not rule out the fact that she was a prostitute. However, since the gospels use the word "prostitute" other times chances are she wasn't. After saving her from being stoned, Jesus told her to "Go now and leave your life of sin." This is the only encounter we know of between Jesus and this woman.
- Mary sister of Lazarus and Martha (John 12:1-3) Location: Bethany (south). Jesus loved this family very much. In this passage he had come to Bethany on his way to Passover in Jerusalem. At a dinner in his honor, Mary anointed him with such expensive perfume that it enraged Judas Iscariot who would betray him 6 days later. Mary of Bethany was definitely a close companion, but the Bible never refers to her as a prostitute.
- Secondly, let's marvel at the character of Christ: What was amazingly radical about Jesus is that he was a friend of sinners. The Pharisees used it against him all the time. But Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 9:10), and He wasn't going to let the Pharisees get in the way of that. Plus, as Jesus, he was God of the universe, perfect and sinless. Every person he came in contact with was more sinful than he was.
- Lastly, let's make sure we interpret Proverbs 29:3 correctly. The type of "companionship" that this man was having with prostitutes was making him "squander his wealth". Why is that? Because he was paying them for sex. That is most definitely not the type of companionship that Jesus had with the women listed above. His companionship was pure and sacrificial in nature.