Luke 5:31–32 (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 scribes and Pharisees saw Matthew and his friends as condemned sinners, but Jesus saw them as spiritually sick “patients” who needed the help of a physician. In fact, He had illustrated this when He cleansed the leper and healed the paralytic. Sin is like a disease: it starts in a small and hidden way; it grows secretly; it saps our strength; and if it is not cured, it kills. It is tragic when sickness kills the body, but it is even more tragic when sin condemns the soul to hell.
The scribes and Pharisees were quick to diagnose the needs of others, but they were blind to their own needs, for they were sinners like everyone else. They appeared righteous on the outside but were corrupt within (Matt. 23:25–28). They may not have been “prodigal sons” who were guilty of sins of the flesh, but they were certainly “elder brothers” who were guilty of sins of the spirit (Luke 15:11–32; 2 Cor. 7:1).
As I was writing this chapter, I received a phone call from a woman in Canada who disagreed with my radio ministry and repeatedly condemned “the judgmental fundamentalists.” I tried to reason with her from the Word, but she would not accept it. According to her, there was no hell and I had no right to preach about it. As I quoted Scripture to her, she hung up; all I could do was pause to pray for her, and I did it with a heavy heart.
The first step toward healing sin sickness is admitting that we have a need and that we must do something about it. False prophets give a false diagnosis that leads to a false hope (Jer. 6:14); but the servant of God tells the truth about sin, death, and hell, and offers the only remedy: faith in Jesus Christ. The religion of the scribes and Pharisees could offer no hope to Matthew’s friends, but Jesus could.
What a wonderful Physician Jesus is! He comes to us in love; He calls us; He saves us when we trust Him; and He “pays the bill.” His diagnosis is always accurate and His cure is perfect and complete. No wonder Matthew was so happy and wanted to share the Good News with his friends!