Summary: Who did Christ come to save: sinners or the righteous?
Human beings are inherently religious. We were created by God to worship Him. He wired us that way. When sin entered into man, our worship became inherently corrupt. In our post-modern world, the common idea is that God is high on a mountain and that if a man can climb that mountain, one will reach God, and there are many paths on that mountain which a person can choose to climb.
As a result, there are thousands of religions, philosophies, and worldviews, ranging from primitive animistic religions all the way to sophisticated religious systems. But those religions, though differing widely from one in another in the details, nevertheless fall into two categories. On the one hand, there is the religion of human achievement; on the other hand, the religion of divine accomplishment. In every religion other than biblical Christianity, man achieves salvation by his own efforts. Buddhists seek nirvana by following the Eightfold Path; Muslims hope to enter Paradise by following the Five Pillars of Islam; Mormons seek godhood through baptism, membership in the Mormon church, accepting Joseph Smith and his successors as prophets of God, and going through the temple ceremonies; Jehovah’s Witnesses seek to earn everlasting life on earth by their morality and door-to-door proselytizing; Roman Catholics seek salvation by means of the Mass, sacraments, prayers, and good works that cooperate with grace to enable them to earn heaven. (MacArthur)
One of the most profound descriptions of the Gospel found in the Bible is "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son (Romans 5:10 ESV)
Here we find words that no other religion in the world can share. It is what separates Christianity from all other religions. I want to tell you that we have been given the greatest gift of all time. The free gift of eternal life. The is the message of God. This is the message of the gospel. This is the message of Luke. This is still the message of hope that we are preaching today. God saves sinners. He doesn’t save self-righteous people. He doesn’t save the religious. He doesn’t save the enlightened, the blessed, or the devout. God saves sinners. The dirty, wretched, broken, abused, addicted. The outcast, the lost, the lonely, and the imprisoned. God saves sinners.
As we go through the life of our Lord Jesus in the gospel of Luke, we are going to come across this matter again because it is at the heart of all gospel ministry to call sinners to repentance. That includes defining men as they must be defined as sinners, measuring them against the law of God by which the Spirit of God can then produce repentance, pointing out the glories of Christ which can elicit by the Spirit faith. And on the basis of that faith and repentance salvation comes. This has always been the theme of true preaching.
This brings us to our text today. Jesus’s popularity is growing and he is building his inner circle of disciples that he is going to train and build up. Keep in mind that these 12 are the ones that will one day usher in the church age. They will establish Christ’s Church and leave a legacy that will bring us to today as we continually await Christ’s return.
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27–32 ESV)
Verse 32 sums up the essence of what I read from Romans chapter 5. Salvation is offered by God only to sinners, only to self-confessed wicked people, not those who consider themselves good or good enough. The uniqueness of the gospel starts with the fact that there’s only one Savior, and there’s no salvation apart from Him.
“Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.’” (John 14:6)
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” ( Acts 4:12)
“These have been written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and believing might have life in His name.” (John 20:31)