“And Jesus answered them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’” Luke 5:31-32
The Sinful Preachers
Three preachers sat in a room to share during a church convention. “Let us confess our secret sins to one another and pray for one another,” the first pastor stated “I’ll start with mine: my secret sin is that I despise studying to prepare sermons. I frequently plagiarize everything from other preachers.” “My secret sin is that whenever I go out of town,” the second man explained, “I spent all of my money on gambling. I have tried to stop to no avail, and it’s affecting my family.” Then the third preacher finally said. “Oh, my goodness, my secret sin is that I adore gossiping, I just can’t wait to get out of this room.”
Some people avoid salvation very much because they feel that they do not deserve God’s grace due to their sinful nature (1 Timothy 1:12-17). Apostle Paul had similar feelings because before God’s call he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man. The singer of the famous hymn Amazing Grace struggled with this assumption. John Newton was a captain of slave trading ships, and his whole life he felt less deserving of God’s love. It was after his ship was shipwrecked that he called out to God and wrote the lyrics of Amazing Grace. In Luke 5 Jesus was offering a place in God’s kingdom to a tax collector. The Pharisees who watched closely from a distance and Jesus knew what was in their mind used the perfect time to teach that it is never too late for anyone to be saved.
A tax collector was usually a Jew who collaborated with the Romans to tax the Jews heavily. Therefore they were hated on both ends of the spectrum. The Romans did not trust them because they were Jews, while Jews thought that they were sell-outs. Jesus then compared sinners to sickly people who need to see a doctor to be well. The doctor knows the cure and without his care, the sick will remain frail and maybe get worse. Jesus is then giving the tax collector the cure for his sickness. He was calling him to repentance (Mark 1:15). When the tax collector accepted, he followed Jesus and left the tax booth behind. Repenting means having a complete turnaround.
Jesus came into the world to atone for the sins of the world. As a result, His grace is available to save you if you are a sinner. To put it another way, if Paul and John Newton could be forgiven for their despicable sins, so can you. People who think of themselves as wretches are in a better position than those who think of themselves as good and believe that a Savior is unnecessary. God’s grace is provided to those who are aware of their sin and need for salvation (Luke 13:3). The great physician has come to call you to repentance. His diagnosis is always accurate and the cure He gives is always perfect and complete.
King James Version (KJV)
“And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
New International Version (NIV)
“Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'”
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.'”
New American Bible (NASB)
“And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners.'”
English Standard Version (ESV)
“And Jesus answered them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.'”
The Living Bible (TLB)
“Jesus answered them, ‘It is the sick who need a doctor, not those in good health. My purpose is to invite sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think themselves already good enough.'”