I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
I. THE MOST UNUSUAL PLACES AND THE MOST UNUSUAL TIMES ARE, ACCORDING TO THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST, TO BE UTILIZED FOR THE SEEKING AND CONVERTING OF THE MOST UNUSUAL CHARACTERS, AND THOSE WHO MAY BE APPARENTLY OF THE MOST HOPELESS KIND.
II. THAT BY THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST NO LIMIT MUST BE SET TO THE CONDESCENSION - WHENEVER EVEN IT MAY MOST REALLY MERIT THAT DESCRIPTION - OF THE MAN WHO WOULD EMULATE THE CHARACTER AND THE WORK AND THE METHODS OF THAT MODEL PHYSICIAN OF SOULS.
III. THAT AS THE SUPREME NEED OF THE SOUL IS MERCY, SO ALSO THE SOVEREIGN QUALIFICATION OF HIM WHO WOULD RE ITS PHYSICIAN IS READINESS TO MERCY - TO FEEL IT AND TO SHOW IT. Contrast the "having mercy" and the requiring of sacrifice. - B.
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
I. To HEAR SIN EVINCES HATRED OF EVIL EVEN MORE THAN A SUMMARY PUNISHMENT OF IT. Consider the patience, the self-sacrifice, which is required to win men from evil habits, and from wicked dispositions. Now we measure our moral likes or dislikes by what they lead us to undergo. How much we love we can tell by how much we will bear for our affections; how much we dislike, by what effort we are willing to put forth to resist or avoid what is offensive to us. Consider a teacher who shall avenge himself of a pupil's disobedience by punishing, or by summarily excluding that pupil. How cheap is such riddance of mischief from his school! How is all summed up in one outburst of feeling! It is very painful and disagreeable, but it is short. But suppose that, instead of resorting to expulsion, with its disgrace, the teacher shall enter into the sympathy of the pupil by gentleness, by winning kindness, by forbearance, by devoting his very life to him, and shall set him upon reformation, and wait for him to reform, and endure while he is reforming. How much more does he, by such a course of conduct as this, evince his dislike of evil, than by merely excluding the pupil! What we will bear for the sake of getting rid of evil, measures how much we dislike it.
II. A DISPOSITION TO HEAL SIN IS THE CLEAREST POSSIBLE EXPOSITOR OF MORAL RECTITUDE. Men do not always see it to be so. It is a part of our lower thinking to believe that a thunderous exhibition, with a display of wrath and punitive judgment, is a more solemn and conclusive manifestation of the Divine abhorrence of sin. But an abhorrence of sin is more illustriously marked by gentleness and patience in healing it, than by any display of justice in punishing it. He that once conceives of the God that presides over the universe, and keeps all its elements intact and unharmed, as a God that makes Himself the medicine for those that are led away from purity, and becomes Himself the Saviour of sinners — he that once does this has a conception of rectitude in God, and of the Divine hatred of evil, such as he can get in no other way.
III. A DISPOSITION TO HEAL SIN DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FROM SIN ANY OF ITS DANGERS. It removes no barriers, and yields no encouragements. There are ways of dealing with evil that lead to the presumption that it is safe to sin because there is a chance for recovery, if harm begins to come upon the sinner; but the way in which Christ dealt with evil led to no such presumption. Where men fall into sickness by their excesses, is the tenderness on the part of the nurse an argument for the repetition of those excesses. The care and the kindness of a parent in restoring a son from downfall are never a reason with a grateful son for falling again. And the grace of God in Christ Jesus, that bears With sin, not because it is to be allowed, but because, being hateful. God addresses the whole energy of His Being and administration to the rescue of men from it-this does not take away anything from the fear of sin, nor furnish motives to transgression.
IV. On the part of those who Ere healed, A DISPOSITION TO HEAL SIN PRODUCES A GENEROUS REPENTANCE, WHICH GROWS OUT OF THE NOBLER SENTIMENTS OF THE MIND, and which is therefore a true repentance — one that does not need to be repented of. It is no longer fear of consequences, nor even self-condemnation or conscience, that inspires reformation; it is an action of gratitude; a work of love.
V. SUCH A DISPOSITION PRESENTS THE DIVINE CHARACTER IN A LIGHT WHICH TENDS TO UNIVERSAL ADMIRATION AND UNIVERSAL CONFIDENCE. It takes nothing away from the essential authority and monarchy of God; but it brings God into vital sympathetic relations to His creatures — especially where the remedy has been wrought out at the expense of His own life. The spectacle of a God that is clothed with a spirit of justice made firm in the administration of a righteous government, and of one that, loving justice, still finds rescue and release for the transgressor through the interposition of His own self — that spectacle is one that cannot but fill the heart of every pure and noble creature with admiration and confidence and love. God, by the very pains with which He sought to cleanse the heart and the conscience, testified to how dangerous was that sin that had disfigured the conscience and soiled the heart. With this brief statement, I remark —
1. There is great encouragement for men that have given way to temptation and transgression, to turn back from evil, to repent, and to enter upon a course of right-living. One of the most wonderful of doctrines was the declaration of Christ that a man might be born again; not merely that he must be — which it true, if he would see the kingdom of heaven — but that he might be; that a man who had for years and years gone wrong, might, as it were, go back and call all the past nothing, and start over again. What would men give if they could do this in their secular affairs t Only God is on the side of the man that wants to return to the path of holiness. There is no parallel to the Divine helpfulness towards the erring anywhere out of the family. When men in secular relations and social connections have done wrong, nothing is on their side — everything is against them. The influences of this world tend to hold a man up in the beginning.
2. This exhibition of God in healing sin instead of punishing it, is the model for Christian dispositions. We must have the Spirit of Christ, or we are none of His. The mother that watches over her child, and that, seeing its faults, not so much punishes it as trains it out of those faults, devoting her life, day and night, to its welfare; the mother that wins her child out of evil into good — that mother stands as the child's saviour, reproducing the example and conduct of Christ towards her little one. Arc there those round about you that need succour and help: Have you done some things for them?
3. What will be the glorious disclosure of this Divine nature in heaven — the lovableness of God, the attractive beauty that there is in Him, so disclosed by the Saviour!
(H. W. Beecher.)
(Thomas Cooper.)I. WHAT IS THE PURPORT OF CHRIST'S COMING INTO AND WORK IN TEE WORLD AS ANNOUNCED IN THE SCRIPTURES GENERALLY? Universal and all-inclusive. The world. Whosoever.
II. HERE, HOWEVER, AN APPARENT LIMITATION. Some whom He did not come to call: the righteous. Who were these righteous? Wee e they really righteous? No, but only self-righteous.
III. ARE THERE, THEN, ANY WHOM CHRIST DID NOT COME TO SAVE? NO. But so long as a man is self-righteous he is not saveable, he cannot hear and obey the call of Christ. Christ's errand is to the needy and the sinful. Let the self-righteous become conscious of his unrighteousness and sinfulness, and he becomes at once one of those whom Christ came to call. For —
IV. IN COMING TO CALL SINNERS HE TRULY CAME TO CALL ALL, for all are sinners. And thus is the apparent limitation, so far as His desire and purpose are concerned, shown not really to exist. He will have all men to be saved and to tome to a knowledge of the truth.
(J. B. Bailey.)Criminality certainly appeared to Christ more odious and detestable than it did to His contemporaries. How strange, then, to find Him treating it more leniently I perfect justice here appears to take the very course which would be taken by injustice. It is true that the extremes do in a manner meet. Christ, representing the highest humanity, treats crime in a manner which superficially resembles the treatment of it by those in whom humanity is at the lowest stage. But the other toleration was barbarous. Christ's toleration is the newly-revealed virtue of mercy.
(Ecce Homo.)There are two classes of men — the righteous who believe themselves sinners; and sinners who believe themselves righteous.
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