Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jesus Did Not Come To Call The Righteous to Repentance?

The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at Jesus's disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:30-32)

The only definition of repentance in the New Testament is "a change of mind." I could change my mind about eating shrimp or I could change my mind about walking to the park. Both are a change of mind but they concern different things. Jesus was speaking of the specific change of mind that leads to someone trusting Jesus. We Christians have already made this change of mind.

Another translation for "saved" is "cured" or "made well." If you are "saved" you are no longer sick because Jesus "makes you well" thus you have no need to repent, that is to change your mind to trust Jesus to be saved, cured, or made well. You've already done it. I don't think Jesus was saying "I never call the righteous to change their mind about anything."

Jesus said, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Luke 5:31-32). When Jesus was saying this everyone was sick because He had not yet gone to the cross to cure people of sin with His blood. Jesus "ate and drank with the tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 5:30) because those who know they need a physician will accept treatment.

Those who are too proud to believe that they are sick or those who think they can cure themselves (in this case with their own good works) will reject the physician. Jesus didn't want to waste time with those who would reject Him. Jesus preferred to go to the spiritual hospitals of the humble rather than the houses of the self-righteous who refused treatment because they denied their sinful condition.

If you take repentance to mean "change of mind" which it does:
  • Righteous people don't need to change their mind from unbelief to trust in Jesus to be saved because they have already trusted in Christ and are already saved.
  • Righteous people don't need to change their mind as a whole because they have the mind of Christ. Who would want to get rid of that?
  • Righteous people do need to change their mind when they discover something they believe to be false.
  • Righteous people do need to change their mind about performing unloving actions. A change of mindset is much more effective and longer lasting than a mere change of action or behavior.
  • Righteous people do need to change their mind as God leads them to. He may lead you to change your mind about your perspectives, courses of action, manners of approach, about almost anything. Allow God to renew your mind by being open to Him and honest with Him. He may challenge you to change your mind about something you've always held to be true or something that is dear to you.
If you take repentance to mean "turn from sin" which it doesn't:
  • Righteous people don't need to turn from sin because as Acts 3:26 tells us "God raised up Jesus and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your sinful ways."
  • Righteous people don't need to turn from sin because Christ took away sin. What is there to turn away from if it is gone?
  • Righteous people don't need to turn from sin but scripture tells us to "put to death the deeds of the flesh" (Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5). That doesn't mean turn away from sin but to claim the victory that our righteousness through the blood of Christ has already won over it. Recognize His grace and by it you will reject godless ways and worldly desires (Titus 2:12).
Repentance is not primarily about sin. Repentance is an openness to God's leading and teaching with the trust in Him to follow His leading and agree with His teaching. Repentance is not trying to do better or feeling really bad about something you've done. Repentance is a change of mind for the better not the mind dwelling on the worse.

When you make repentance (changing your mind) into something you force yourself to think or do you aren't allowing Christ to renew your mind. You may unknowingly be trying to change yourself for the worse! Repentance is most often something natural and unspoken. It is like a child wanting a cookie who is then offered a piece of pie. The child forgets all about the cookie. Repentance is not a work we do to gain or regain God's approval. Repentance is agreeing and cooperating with God's revealed love.

Related Posts:
Forgiven and Loving - Looks at the totality of our forgiveness, what it means to "confess sins," and includes another look at the meaning of repent.


  1. Praise God brother!! This is wonderful!!!

  2. Thank you. As I was reading your post the Lord's Prayer came to mind and the much discussed lines of "leads us not into temptation but deliver us from evil". While reading your post the lines become blessing blurred, as one is made more whole (Holy) I find that through no effort in the intrinsic wisdom through the Holy Spirit that which is Separate in Natures (God's) S.I.N. of Him becomes clear and the temptation is hardly temptation at all but realized for what it is...and I feel delivered from it before it could even settle in as being something to consider or think more upon. It is always a final choice though, as he cannot control us like a robot (Free Will). It is through that child-like faith in total Trust and allowing myself to be vulnerable to His Love above the 'curiosity' of the world that just doing nothing other than what was tempting puts me in a place of 'peace'. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives peace but as I do ". My question has been for a while, then who are the righteous. and the well?.. My initial thought is, no-one. I feel he knew what was in everyone's hearts and minds, and that is a part of my Faith; therefore, the reading is also meant for those who have realized some renewal of the mind toward the inward Christ through the Holy Spirit. "There is none righteous, no, not one." Only One, the blessed Son of God in flesh, completely answered to God's will; His every thought, word and action being for God's glory and pleasure. Well does He deserve the Name, "Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2: 1).

    Yet, in the Psalms, "the righteous" are often spoken of, for there were those who sought to do what was right in the sight of God, and although they did not answer perfectly to the mind of God, as did His blessed Son in Manhood, they were true children of God. The divine nature within them produced the desire to please God; and as children of believing Abraham their faith was counted for righteousness."

    What this means is, he did not come to those who already know him, but those who did not. For those who seek righteousness through him are on The Way, perhaps not perfect, but they are desiring in the heart in Spirit and in Truth to Know the Father, and to "Be Perfect", yet even in our sinful state. Blessings and thank you.

    1. "Our new man has been created in God’s image. It is righteous and holy" (Ephesians 4:24).
      Our new creation (new man) is our spirit. Our spirit is the only part of us that is born again. Jesus made this clear in John 3.

      Righteousness for Christians isn't a matter of human behavior but of spiritual rebirth. Righteous deeds come from living by the Spirit because our spirit is righteous.