“And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘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
Do you realize that we misunderstand a lot about the Pharisees? We use the term without understanding what it means. The Pharisees were dedicated laymen to the Jewish faith. The goal of the Pharisees was to help the Jewish people live distinctive lives from unbelievers in the world. We think of Pharisees as villains—they really weren’t. They had good intentions, but they used the wrong way to do it. They thought the way you could separate people from the rest of the world—keep people living a godly life—was through laws and regulations. They believed that the purpose of Moses’ law was to separate believers from unbelievers, people like the tax collector Matthew, whom Jesus called to be His disciple in Luke 5.
The Bible says that Matthew left everything and followed Jesus. He immediately wanted to throw a party to celebrate his retirement from the tax business and his call to follow Jesus. The only people that Matthew knew were other non-Christians and other tax-gatherers. So he invited them to come to the party to meet Jesus.
Here’s where the Pharisees come in, and here’s where you and I can learn a lesson. The Pharisees couldn’t handle this party with tax-gatherers and sinners. They began grumbling to Jesus’ disciples. They didn’t get it. Why would Jesus hang around with sinners? Jesus answered them and said, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.”
The fact is we’re all sinners. We’re all unrighteous. We all need God’s forgiveness. The difference was the people Jesus hung around understood that; the Pharisees didn’t understand their sin.
Do you realize Christ has left you and me here for one purpose, and that is to influence non-Christians to become Christians so they can experience eternal life? The truth is, the longer we’re Christians, the fewer non-Christians we hang around. The longer we’re Christians, the more we have to work at being around non-Christians. God has called us not to isolate ourselves from non-Christians, but to influence non-Christians. You’ll never influence somebody you don’t spend time with.
We need to take our cue from Jesus. He was known as the friend of sinners. He loved sinners and rejoiced when they came into a right relationship with Himself. Jesus hated sin, and He spoke out against it continually because He saw the way it destroyed people’s lives. But He loved sinners, worked with them and prayed for them. He rejoiced when they came to faith in Him, and so should we.