But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Gospel According to Matthew (ESV)
Jesus deals with the Pharisees concerning mercy in this passage. They had been criticizing Jesus for eating with sinners. In other words Jesus was eating with those that the Pharisees looked down on. They thought themselves to be righteous and all others to be sinners. When Jesus tells them he came for the sinners, not the righteous he let’s them know they perceive themselves as righteous, so they see no need for his services.
They are quick to criticize Jesus for working with those they have no use for. They believe they have distanced themselves from sin and everyone associated with it. Yet, they don’t see that they too are in need of the Great Physician. They are counting on their religion and outward piety to convince themselves and everyone else they are not sin sick.
The shame of the situation is that they are in more need of Jesus attention than those they despise. The reason the tax collectors and sinners gather around Jesus is because they know that they need him. They seek the mercy that Jesus offers them. Its sad to see that the Pharisees show no mercy to others, because they so desperately need mercy themselves.
We that are in Christ must learn to show mercy to those that are not. We have received mercy, we must now give it. May we never look down on those we see still suffering in their sin sickness and leave them in it. Let’s be like Jesus and go to them and offer them the cure. Let’s seek them out like Jesus did and call them to something better.
© 2013 Leo J. Woodman