Why did Jesus Come?
Luke 5:27-32: “After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he left all, rose up, and followed Him. Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. And the scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, ‘Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’”
Jesus came to call sinners to repentance.
When we hear the word “sin” or “sinner” there is a very negative connotation. Of course it is not pleasant to hear that you are “a sinner” and have it insinuated that you are under God’s judgment and condemnation, and will be sent to hell when you die. I don’t believe that Jesus was looking at these tax collectors and sinners with condemnation, but rather, following His analogy of a physician helping those who are sick, I believe Jesus knew that He had the cure for these people. I believe that He saw them as being in a bad place and wanted to help them to change (or repent) so that they would be in a better place.
That said, I realize also that Jesus paid a high price for our sins. His sacrifice was made on our behalf so that we could have our past sins forgiven. In the light of this, we should take very seriously anything that may displease God. In fact, we should be fearful of the consequences of ignoring God’s ways. We should not take sin lightly.
It is interesting that the scribes and Pharisees are the ones questioning Him about His interactions with sinners. The scribes were experts in the Jewish law and acted as lawyers during the time of Jesus. The Jewish religious organization ran the government, with no church-state type of separation. The Pharisees were a special group of Jews who were dedicated to meticulously following all of the details of the Jewish laws. These 2 groups, the scribes and Pharisees, were very “religious” and zealous to follow the mostly man made religious regulations. It is recorded in the Scriptures that Jesus rebuked them many times for the evil that they were doing but were attempting to cover up. They were, most likely, as much sinners as the tax collectors, but were more hypocritical and keeping their sins hidden. It was like they were really sick but saw themselves as being well and not in need of a physician. It is true spiritually, and may also be true physically, that you cannot be healed unless you see yourself as being sick.
So, Jesus came with a cure. This was His reason and purpose for coming.
What was His cure?
Earlier in the gospel of Luke, in chapter 4, Jesus was in the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read. He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. He read a portion of scripture, a prophecy about Himself, and after reading He closed the book and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. Here’s what He read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (see Luke 4:16-21)
I see this portion of Scripture as a confirmation that Jesus came with a cure. The cure was a proclamation – a message. Didn’t Jesus also say, “The truth shall set you free”, and then He said “I am the truth”.
How does this work?
The Scripture from Isaiah that Jesus read is from Isaiah 61. It goes on to say more of what Jesus will do: “to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion. To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (see Isaiah 61: 1-3)
Looking closer at the Scripture in Isaiah, we see that Jesus brings healing, freedom, restoration of sight, comfort, consolation, beauty and joy. Although Jesus did heal people’s physical bodies and restore sight to physically blinded people, the reference here is to spiritual changes, work that is being done on our inside. More specifically, Jesus made a way for us to become truly spiritual. He made a way for us to be changed from carnally minded to spiritually minded, and this is the cure.
As we receive and believe the truth that Jesus proclaimed we will be healed of our broken hearts, we will be set free from our captivity, we will have our sight restored, we will no longer be mourning, but will be rejoicing in our hope. Jesus has made a way for us to move from this carnal world system and to be a part of the heavenly system.
At the core of the change is shifting of where we place our hope. If we place our hope in this world and the things that are offered in this world system, we will be held captive. We will be blinded. We will be broken hearted and disappointed. And we will be sorrowful and mourning. Ultimately, this is what the vanity of this world delivers. All is vanity in this life. But if we place our hope in heaven, in what Jesus has offered to us, in eternal life with Him in heaven, then we will be transformed. This living hope will bring freedom and joy to the depth of our being. The fruit of the Spirit will be evident in our life.
Think of this: Here was the Son of God, the Creator, who was coming to His creation to proclaim healing and freedom to them. How is it even possible that He was not received? He even paid for your redemption – the forgiveness of our pass sins. How could we not listen? Why was He rejected? Because in order to receive the spiritual we must let go of the physical. We don’t want to let go of the physical. It’s easier to hold on to what we see, and feel, and know with our senses.
I heard a story about how they catch monkeys over in some place in Africa and saw something similar on one of those wildlife shows. What they do is get a hollow coconut, attach a rope to it, put a small hole in it just large enough for the monkey to slip his hand through, and put some berries in it that the monkeys really like. They then hang the coconut in the tree and wait. The monkey will smell the berries, reach in and grab a handful of them, but then won’t be able to pull his hand back out through the hole while holding the berries. All the monkey needs to do is drop the berries and he would be free, but he foolishly will not drop the berries, but will continue to hold on, even to the point where the hunters can come and bind him further with a rope.
We too don’t want to let go of the things of this world. This is what hinders us from hearing the truth. We have accepted the lies and we want to continue to believe the lies because this is how we hold on to the things we want in this world, whatever they are, physical pleasures or hopes that this world offers. But these are the things that have us bound. All we need to do is to drop them.
Jesus asks us to die on the cross with Him. This is the equivalent of dropping the things of this world. Die to the hopes and dreams of this world in this life and live for heaven. Set your affections on the spiritual things and not the earthly things. This is true freedom.
Unlike the monkey in the story above, we have many things that we hold on to so we have to drop many things. We can’t just drop some of them and hold on to others, but we have to drop them all. We must consider ourselves as dead to all of these things that the world offers and keep ourselves dead to them. We can’t pick things back up again because it will cause us to be enslaved again.
The root problem that causes us to sin is our carnal desires that are associated with our hope being set in this world. The solution is to radically change or “repent”. The radical change is to die to this world and live for the hope that Jesus has offered to us. This is the Gospel, the good news that Jesus has proclaimed. This is the cure.
Lord, please help us to walk in this way – to be dead to this world and “in Christ” so we can be free and ready for your return. Amen.