Eating With Sinners

(Luke 5:27-32)

Jesus often went in to the houses of those the Pharisees considered sinners, especially tax collectors. The Pharisees grumbled as to why Jesus was eating with sinners. In this section of the gospel of Luke we see him again entering into the house of a tax collector and eating with sinners, and there is a good message in these words we can use today.

caduceus-medical-symbolThe Pharisees were elitest. They were proud and arrogant and looked down upon those whom they felt they were better than. They thought they were the people of God, not realising they were blind and full of hypocrisy. They also lacked insight for they did not understand the reason why Jesus came, which he pointed out in this section of scripture.

The Pharisees and the scribes grumbled because he was eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus then replied to them saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Verse 31 ) Now there are a couple of things we can take from this. First, he was stating what is plain and obvious. You don’t go to a doctor unless you are sick. An interesting comment considering Jesus could heal any disease and raise the dead by the power of God as well. There are some today who preach “divine health” based on faith. They say that if your faith is strong you should never be ill. but clearly Jesus showed in this statement that a sick person needs a doctor. He did not promote “divine health” but rather the miraculous healings were given to confirm and testify to the message of the gospel.

We know there were many instances of people in the bible who were ill and did not receive divine healing including Paul and Epaphras. Was their faith lacking because they did not have “divine health?” Absolutely not! The message of divine health is incorrect and what it does is to promote condemnation in people who accept this teaching for they believe they are lacking in faith if they happen to fall ill. What absolute nonsense. In this scripture Jesus was showing that if you get sick, go to the doctor for the doctor is an authority and all the authorities are the servants of God to do his will as Paul showed in Romans 13:1 saying, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Now Jesus was not talking about physical health only in this statement but also spiritual health. All of mankind has been born under the power of sin and are sinners. Thus to be healed from the “disease” of sin requires a special kind of physician. They need the healing power that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, not for a physical sickness, but for the spiritual sickness of sin. This is what Jesus was referring to in this section. He is the physician who came to heal the sick, that is those sick with sin. And that is why he goes on in verse 32 to say, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

So if he came to call the sinners to repentance, how could he do so if he only hung out with the Pharisees and scribes who believed they were already righteous? If Jesus spent his time with the righteous only (assuming there were any who could be considered righteous), when and where would the sinners be able to hear the message of salvation from sin in the gospel? Taking a modern analogy, if you are selling a product you need to target the market you want to sell that product to. That is what Jesus was doing…sort of. He had a “product” (the Gospel of salvation) and his “target market” were sinners. So to “sell” his product he had to go to where the target market was, which meant he had to eat and drink with the sinners so he could “advertise and market” his message.

The Pharisees and scribes just didn’t get it.

(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ provided by Dominik Gwarek)

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