Many people say that, according to Jesus, He did not come to call everyone. He came for the big or real sinners only, implying that everyone else is righteous and not a sinner. They say this based on a misunderstanding of certain verses in the Bible.
For example, Mark 2:15-17. Let’s read this passage together:
And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his [Levi’s] house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.
When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?”
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.”
Understandably, several people who have never had a serious study of the Bible will read this passage and think that there are righteous people out there who do not need Jesus in order to be saved. For did not Jesus say that He came not for the righteous, but for sinners?
Well, there is one thing we must keep in mind always, however. The Bible is the Word of God; it does not have errors and contradictions in it. Not one.
For us to believe that the passage above implies that there are righteous people out there who don’t need Jesus for salvation is to believe that the Bible contradicts itself!
For the Bible also says, in Romans 3:23, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
ALL have sinned. ALL are sinners. ALL need Jesus Christ in order to be saved.
So what did Jesus mean when He said that He did not come to call the righteous? Isn’t he implying that such people do exist? Even Mark, inspired by the Holy Spirit, calls them sinners in Mark 2:16, implying that there are people who are not sinners! So how can I say that all humans are sinners?
First of all, it is not I who first said that all are sinners. It is God who said it first. Once again, read Romans 3:23 for proof. Jesus (who is God) also made it clear, in Luke 18:19, that all humans are sinners when He said that no one is good except God alone.
So did Jesus contradict Himself? God forbid!
What Jesus did in Mark 2:17 (and also in Matthew 9:13 and Luke 5:32) is simple. He spoke according to the perspective of certain people.
We must always understand the context of every passage we read.
In Mark 2:15-17, we see that the Pharisees looked down on certain people like the tax collectors, the criminals, the thieves, the adulterers, the prostitutes, etc. The Pharisees trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt (Luke 18:9). They labeled the people they looked down on as “sinners”.
Note that the Pharisees didn’t consider others as sinners for the same reason that God considers all humans as sinners. They thought they [the Pharisees], and people like them, were righteous and not deserving of the label “sinners”, and, thus, only those who were not “righteous” like them were to be called “sinners”.
For sure, the way they were thinking is a wrong and unbiblical way of thinking. And Jesus could’ve easily corrected them when He heard them ask His disciples why they were dining with tax collectors and “sinners”? Out of divine wisdom, however, He chose, instead, to answer their question while speaking from their perspective. (Mark, inspired by God, also writes, in Mark 2:16, according to the perspective of such people.)
And Jesus’ answer was that He only saves the person who wants to be saved by Him, the person who sees that he has a spiritual illness. It is for such a person that He came!
On the other hand, a person who’s too proud to see that he needs salvation from God because he thinks he’s righteous is a person that refuses to be saved, and such a person will logically not receive salvation from God as long as he refuses it. To such a person, he is spiritually healthy and, thus, he feels he has no need for Jesus, the Physician. Therefore, according to his perspective, he is righteous.
Does this mean that Jesus did not really come for everyone? Not at all!
Jesus came for everyone … because everyone is a sinner in God’s eyes. No one is righteous. All need Jesus in order to be saved. For Jesus is the only way, and the only truth, and the only life; no one comes to the Father but through Him!
Of course, the Pharisees weren’t the only “righteous” people out there. Even today, we have many “righteous” people who don’t see the sin in them and who think they don’t need salvation from God. They think they can earn salvation on their own. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they also look down on others and call them “sinners”.
Such people will not be saved unless they change their way of thinking and come to Jesus in repentance by faith.
And if you also think you’re righteous, just ignore this post and continue rebelling against God with your “righteousness”. You think you’re healthy, so why need Jesus?
But if you realize you’re a sinner who’s offended God greatly, and you desperately want to be saved, Jesus has come for you. In fact, He is calling you now and wants you to be with Him in heaven. So what are you waiting for? If you really want salvation, then bow down on your knees now and ask God to forgive you of your sins and save you through the blood of Jesus. If your heart is sincere, God will save you for sure because that’s how much He loves you.
And if you’re saved, then praise God with all you’ve got, and prepare for a long and joyful journey of holiness with Him. For a good start, study the Bible and find a good local church, and let God always guide you and lead you all the way. And don’t forget to send us your comments. We’d also like you to keep coming here every now and then to read more and more posts from this site which has been made for the glory of God.