In considering the two groups Jesus had contact with in Luke 5.27-32, a riddle to solve is which group is in a better place, spiritually speaking. Please take the time to read these verses right now. Was it the pompous and self-righteous scribes and Pharisees who would not deign themselves needful to come to Jesus for healing? The very ones who came to criticize the fact that Jesus was seeking the lost by being in their midst? Or, would it be the friends of Levi, who were tax collectors and sinners—WHO KNEW THEY WERE SINNERS and willing to listen to Levi’s new friend? Both groups are sinners, without doubt, but one group seems nearer understanding that fact and thus being nearer the possibility of doing something about it.
I fear that we often lose sight of the real lesson to be gleaned from this passage in Luke. We do have here one of the names or titles given to Jesus in Scripture. It is most comforting and appealing to think of our Lord as a physician who can heal us from the ravages of sin! I love the song: The Great Physician, by William Hunter and J.H. Stockton. The words of the first stanza are as follows:
The great Physician now is near,
The sympathizing Jesus;
He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,
O hear the voice of Jesus.
Certainly the words of this song are true and they are comforting. However, we may miss something very important about this text by focusing too much on the idea of Jesus as physician. In context, He was giving an answer to the criticism of the scribes and Pharisees, remember. It seems to me that using the figure of Himself as physician is almost incidental.
Evidently, Jesus felt that these publicans and sinners were “live” and “valid” for prospecting. Jesus would be teaching them just as He did anyone else while He went about His mission of seeking and saving that which was lost (Luke 19.10).
Are you more or less likely to respond to the good news when you are fully aware of your sinful condition? Brother Winkler used to teach us in preaching school that the job of the preacher is to: comfort the afflicted and likewise to AFFLICT THE COMFORTABLE. The Pharisees could not begin to commence to start to think of themselves being in need of anything that Jesus of Nazareth could provide them. How foolish they were and how foolish is anyone who thinks as they did! Jesus lowers the boom on them in Matthew 23 because of their self-righteousness, showmanship, and hypocrisy.
It certainly is taught in Scripture that Christians need to be wary and watchful about the associations that we make. Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 15.33… Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. The NKJV has it: Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” We must not allow ourselves to have the kind of contact with sinners that will put us at risk for being influenced negatively. But if we follow the example of Jesus, we will not be isolating ourselves completely from the world. We must come into contact with lost souls in order to save lost souls. Good judgment will have to be exercised in this matter, to be sure.
In this context when Jesus talks about the SICK needing a PHYSICIAN, He teaches an important lesson as He answers the faulty criticism spat out by the scribes and Pharisees. He is referencing Himself as the PHYSICIAN. He is referencing all men as the SICK. All men do need the balm that is possible because of the completed mission of our Lord Jesus. The lesson is, the ones who are willing to acknowledge a need for the medicine are the ones most likely to be helped by the efforts of the physician.
Today, we have the gospel of Christ (Romans 1.16) and the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) as the medicine from the Great Physician. What are we to do with such valuable medicine as this? It has to be obvious that we must find the SICK (with all diligence) and administer the healing balm of the gospel and doctrine of Christ! As we go forth with this task, when we find precious souls who already realize their lost condition, we are at an advantage in placing before them the healing balm of the gospel of Christ! Let us be wise in following the example of THE GREAT PHYSICIAN!