Mark 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
This is an enormously important statement on the part of Jesus, and it is actually a huge stumbling block for the salvation of many. Jesus isn’t actually excluding anyone from His call, He is saying that to respond to His call you have to acknowledge that you are a sinner. Sadly, that is what many people refuse to do. Don Francisco wrote a song called Anybody Else but Me that captures this tragedy in an amusing way. Aimed squarely at people in the “Bible belt” of America, it has someone singing, “He was talking to the hypocrites, Pharisees, anybody else but me.” As long as we have that attitude, we can’t receive His salvation. In addressing the church in Laodicea, Jesus made it clear that this is a danger for people who are actually saved as well. “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17) We have to acknowledge that we are lost in order to be found, that we are poor in order to receive God’s abundance, that we deserve hell in order to receive heaven. This doesn’t mean we are constantly to poor-mouth ourselves, but it does mean that we have to recognize that every good thing we have is by the grace of God, and not something we have created or earned on our own. Some people turn this around and feel you have to have sinned spectacularly in order to get saved, but that’s not the case either. Everyone is worthy of hell because of ignoring God and rebelling against Him in various ways, failing to do what we know He wants and doing things we know are not pleasing to Him. As Isaiah recorded so memorably, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) It is when we recognize and confess that, that we are saved.
This is something I really wrestled with. I wasn’t one of the “bad kids,” and I felt superior to those who fit in that category. I had considerable knowledge of the Bible, and I thought that in itself was a marvelous “merit badge.” It wasn’t until I was in my 20s, already a husband and father, that the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and showed me a mirror so I could see the blackness of my soul. I fell to my knees and cried out, “My Lord and my God.” The fact that was my response tells me I was indeed saved, but just barely. It was from that point that I started to grow spiritually, because I recognized that I had nothing apart from Christ. Looking back over the time before that I can see many times the Lord protected me from major sin, when I was doing nothing to avoid it on my own. That has happened since then, too! God’s grace is indeed amazing, and I am as much in need of it as anyone. I was talking with someone just recently and they said they couldn’t imagine that about me, but God certainly knows, and to a lesser extent I know too. I need to live my life in appropriate gratitude and obedience.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your overwhelming grace! Thank You for the blessed time I had yesterday with my missionary brother from Hong Kong. He is younger than my own children but he is very much my brother, and I am grateful. I pray that I would be an open channel of Your grace to all, so that as many as will may recognize their need and receive it, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!