Matthew 9:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 9:12

“But when Jesus heard this, He said, it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” – Matthew 9:12 

When Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to follow Him, he took Jesus to his home and provided a feast for Him.  There were also many others there with them.  “Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.” Matthew 9:10. Now tax collectors were considered horrible people by the Jews for several reasons.  First, many times they would collect more than was due as a payment to themselves, but more terrible than that was that the money they collected went to Rome and not the Jewish leaders.

Now Pharisees arrived at the dinner as well.  “When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, why is your teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” Matthew 9:11. In essence, what they were asking the disciples was, ‘You call this man the Messiah, the promised one of David.  You say He is a great man and yet, He eats with all these sinners and tax collectors.  Why would He fellowship with them?’  In those days, eating and drinking with others denoted an intimacy and a familiarity with those you partake of food and drink with.  The Pharisees, by asking their question was accusing Jesus of seeking fellowship with these people, these tax collectors, sinners, and wicked people.  What we can deduce from what they said is that there is no way Jesus could be righteous if He delighted in the company of these hideous people.

According to Jewish tradition, not the Law but their traditions, it was sinful to fellowship with sinners.  Jesus heard what they said.  The disciples did not need to tell Him, for He was aware of their words, and I am sure their hearts.  “But when Jesus heard this, He said, It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” Matthew 9:12. This is our focus verse.  What He was saying was, not everyone needs a doctor, only those who were sick.  Of course, the Pharisees were sinners as much as anyone else.  However, as Pharisees, they thought they were already pure and holy, because they followed the law and all the traditions of Judaism.  And since they believe such, they believed they did not need His help or aid.  And He clarified what He said with these words, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13. Again, those He declares righteous in this verse are those who believe they are and do not believe they need forgiveness.

We are called to go to all who are sick and show them Jesus, the one who came to heal them of their sickness, that being sin.  This is why He came, to show this to all who understood their predicament or believe when they are advised of it.  Reach out to the sinners and do not ignore or shy away from them. Reach out to those who need and are open to hear the gospel; no matter who they are and what they have done.  If we are to be like Jesus, then we must reach out to such as He did.  This is our calling.

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

Mark 2:17

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 2:17 

“And hearing this, Jesus said to them, it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 

Jesus again went out to the Sea of Galilee. “And He went out again by the seashore; and all the multitude were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.” Mark 2:13. In this, Jesus was fulfilling the purpose of His coming. “And He said to them, Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for.” Mark 1:38. God the Father sent Jesus here to show the world the truth. “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life and might have it abundantly.” John 10:10. Therefore, when there were people interested in hearing what He had to say, He spent time with them, Note the end of the above verse. “and all the multitude were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.”

Now, as He was walking He sees Levi, also known as Matthew. “And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, Follow Me! And he rose and followed Him.” Mark 2:14. This was no doubt where the first toll station would have been found for those coming from across the sea. This particular station was probably set up to gather taxes to be given to the Roman leader Herod Antipas. Levi was an official of the Jewish client-king Herod and was not a Roman tax collector. However, they were probably hated as much as those of the Romans, and for the same reasons. Their dishonesty was well known, using intimidation as well as force to collect them. Furthermore the Herodian rulers were at best semi-Jews and were hated as much as the Roman governors. And when Jesus calls him to follow Him, there was no hesitation. He immediately left and followed Him.

Now after the above, Jesus had a meal with Levi at his home. “And it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.” Mark 2:15. Because of Levi’s conversion,  he prepared a meal in which Jesus was invited, along with many other tax collectors along with those who were seen as sinners by the Jews. Now, needless to say this was not taken well by the scribes and Pharisees. “And when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers, they began saying to His disciples, Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?” Mark 2:16. Today, we do not understand just how outrageous it was for Jesus to associate with outcasts. In ancient Jewish society, fellowshipping at a table was one of the most intimate expressions of friendship. This was why the religious leaders could not understand how Jesus, whom they considered a religious person, would share a meal with such awful people. In fact, they were offended and disgusted that Jesus would not just speak to them but dine with them.

Now the Pharisees were speaking to Jesus’ disciples, and Jesus overheard their words. “And hearing this, Jesus said to them, it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17. What He is saying is that He did not come to minister to the healthy but the sick. And He is referring to their sinful ways. He came here for those who know they are sinners and desire to be forgiven and made whole. But those who believe they are righteous because they do the works they believe make them righteous believe they do not need what Christ offers. The Jewish leadership: Pharisees and Sadducees, and the Scribes believed they were righteous because they believed they followed the Law as God desired. What they did not understand is that man is ‘sick’ if they sin but once. And this applied to all people.

There are many in this world who need to accept the truth of the gospel. And these are the ones who need to hear the message of Christ. We are called to go out to the sick and lost to declare the truth. “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16. Those who are called the ‘sick’ are the ones who are unsaved. And they can only be healed if they recognize their situation and give themselves to Christ. There are many who believe they are healed but have never accepted Christ. But also, we must be willing to go out and present this truth to all who are willing to hear it. For as the Apostle Paul said, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:13-15. Let’s go out to the sinners and unsaved, no matter who they are, and help them be healed of their sinful life via the blood of Christ.

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

Luke 5:31

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.