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)
I recall one time I went to the doctor for a physical exam. I was there because, I thought, this is what responsible adults do. The doctor came in, looked at my chart, noticed my age (I was about 25 at the time) and said, with a condescending tone, “What are you here for?” “For a physical,” I replied. “You don’t need a physical,” he said. “You are healthy.” Whether he knew it or not, he was communicating a spiritual truth: only sick people need a doctor.
Jesus often crossed paths with a group of incredibly stuck-up religious people called the Pharisees. The Pharisees thought they were better than everyone else. Do you know what? They were. Unfortunately for them, their kind of “better” didn’t matter all that much to Jesus. The Pharisees made a profession out of external morality. They couldn’t see that they were spiritually sick and in need of a doctor. In reality, they were not healthy—no one is. They thought they were. Matthew (also called Levi), on the other hand, was a corrupt tax collector—not religious by any stretch of the imagination—and yet was attracted to Jesus because he saw him as a spiritual doctor who was able to heal his sin-sick soul.
Paradoxically, it’s those who see their silliness in trying to save themselves and realize they are hopeless on their own who actually have reason for hope. It’s the people who know they have a spiritually fatal disease who repent and go to Jesus. When the light of the cross shines on you, by God’s grace—not your intelligence or religion or anything else—you see your darkness. You face it. You own up to it and you humbly go to the Doctor.
Scripture and Reflection Questions
Read Luke 5:27-32
- What do you think about Matthew “leaving everything” to follow Jesus? (Consider that Matthew had a very lucrative business as a tax collector!)
- Tax collectors in the first century were not well-liked. They were crooks who added to government taxes to supply their income. Imagine Jesus eating with a whole host of them. What could you compare that to today? How does this shape your thoughts about Jesus?
- Do you identity more with the Pharisees or Matthew? Why?
- How can you ask the Lord to open your eyes to your spiritual sickness today? Where do you need him to do his divine surgical work?