Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 5:31 

“And Jesus answered and said to them, it is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.” –  Luke 5:31

Now, continuing with the words of Jesus as recorded by Luke, we come to the calling of Levi, also known as Matthew, the son of Alphaeus.  After completing His work where He healed the lame man,  Jesus sees a tax collector. “And after that He went out, and noticed a tax-gatherer named Levi, sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, Follow Me. And he left everything behind and rose and began to follow Him.” Luke 5:27-28. He obviously had heard the teachings of Jesus and was convinced He was legit.  He left everything behind, which included his current life and job. 

And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax-gatherers and other people who were reclining at the table with them.” Luke 5:29.  The act of  hosting a great banquet for Jesus at his own house further shows the sincerity of his choice to be a disciple of Christ.  The idea behind the words ‘big reception’ was the number of people who attended, not necessarily the pomp that was active during the feast.  Now the Pharisees and the scribes saw what was happening and complained to Jesus.  “And the Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, Why do you eat and drink with the tax-gatherers and sinners?” Luke 5:30. J. P. Lange in his commentary on Luke wrote the following. “Luke does not by any means say that these men were among the company at table, for they would then undoubtedly, according to their own opinion, have defiled themselves. We must, on the other hand, conceive the matter thus: that, where Jesus abode, access was forbidden to no one, and that this feast so far bore in some measure a public character. The desire of His enemies to observe the Savior was doubtless stronger than their disinclination to enter the house of a publican, with whom, moreover, in daily life, they necessarily came from time to time in contact. Matthew, on the other hand, was so little disposed to forbid them that, on the contrary, he now with so much the greater joy admitted those as witnesses of the honor unexpectedly fallen to his lot, who once so deeply despised his station.” They just murmured and complained about the fact Levi, along with Jesus, would allow all these ‘sinners’ to associate with them.

Then Jesus answers them as follows, which we see in our focus verse.  “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32. Jesus’ reply is given on behalf of the disciples, for I believe He was aware this was a slap at His claim that He is the Messiah.  Jesus was saying the Scribes and Pharisees, who, in their own eyes were free from the disease of sin, original and actual, and who claimed they were blameless regarding the Law, were not in any need of him. Jesus came as the physician to cure the maladies of the souls, as well as of the bodies of men. Such persons who not only are sick with sin, but sick of it, who are sensible of it, and desire healing were the ones He came to heal,  therefore this was the reason of his conduct, why he conversed with sinners, and not with the Scribes and Pharisees. 

We read in Romans the following, “As it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12.  In light of the biblical teaching here that there is none righteous, and that the call to repentance is universal, the idea of righteous here should be understood as those who falsely think themselves righteous.  Luke did not raise the question here about whether the Pharisees were truly righteous, but later in Luke he lays out what He meant. “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15.

Luke explains in this series of verses, including our focus verse, that He came for those who know their fallenness, who understand the predicament they are in, and desire to make things right with God.  And also for those who thought themselves in good shape, but then came to the knowledge they are not.  Only those who truly understand they are sick know they need a doctor.  And those are the ones He came for, whether they have known for a while, or have finally come to the knowledge they cannot heal themselves. Jesus died to heal everyone, but unless we admit we need Him, repent, and give our lives to Him, we cannot be healed. And unfortunately, this was the condition of many of the Scribes and Pharisees in that day.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

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