31 Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32 I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32, NRSV)
Here I find another of Jesus’ purpose statements. Friday, we uncovered two statements which identified His purpose as: to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:43), and to bring us abundant life (John 10:10). Here we have, not a new purpose, but a further clarification on that same purpose and how it looks from another angle. Calling sinners to repentance is Christ’s way of translating the abundant life of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel, or Good News, is that there is restoration of relationship available for those of us who find ourselves outside it. God’s “return to me” call is for those who recognize they have left home. Won’t you join me in returning to the Papa?
The irony of Jesus’ statement is that His purpose was not for the “righteous.” I see two possible interpretations of this. First, that the righteous need no restoration, for they live in relationship already. The other is that the self-righteous, the ones who do not, will not, or cannot recognize that they are outside relationship have no use for a doctor. They turn such a visitor away from their door in protest at the mere arrival of the Great Physician. Know anybody like that? Or have you seen him/her in the mirror lately? “I’m not sick!” or, “At least I’m not as sick as my neighbor. Go visit them!”
The beauty of the invitation of the Gospel is this: that if you believe it is for you then it is. The Physician comes to all, and readily responds to those who seek Him. Revelation 3:20 (NRSV) says:
“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.”
Relationship is available! Restoration has been paid for! It is the whole reason God left Heaven, became man in the form of Jesus Christ, suffered, died, was buried, defeated Death, rose again, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father waiting to collect His inheritance – all who accept the Gospel of Christ as the Good News for their abundant life now and forevermore.