Why Did Jesus Come? Part Three: He Came To Call Sinners

By Shereen Ghobrial

And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” —Mark 2:17 ESV

“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” —Luke 5:32

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” —Matthew 9:13

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” —Luke 19:10

Biel/Bienne* is a city in Switzerland that is very much associated with precision and micro mechanics, especially in the watch making industry. Many watch-making companies started in this city, including big names such as Swatch, Omega SA and Rolex. A number of other cities in Switzerland are involved in watch making, but most of them get their “movement” parts from Biel/Bienne.

I have not visited Biel/Bienne, but I imagine the people there to be very punctual and neat. They are probably overall precise and accurate in their communication and manner of life. How am I making such a conclusion? By knowing what they produce and what they are good at doing. Their personality and style of life are reflected in the industry in which they excel.

Why would a watch company be picky regarding the precision of the movement parts of its watches? The main goal and function of a watch is to give the time in a very precise way. Imagine having a watch that is made of gold and looks very nice, but it advances one extra minute every hour. That means by the end of the day your watch will be ahead by 24 minutes, and after two days it will be ahead by nearly one hour. If you get such a watch from a reputable company you would consider the watch to be no good and seek a replacement. In spite of the beautiful looks of the watch, it would be considered defective for it does not meet the purpose for which it was made.

Now let us consider man instead of the watch, and use the word “sin” instead of “defective.”

What Is Sin?
God created man in His image to rule the world and reflect the moral glories of God; for example, to be intelligent, loving and holy. By reflecting God’s glories, or displaying His attributes, man would glorify God. However, man missed that goal, deciding to seek his own desires instead. The result is every one of us was diverted to a different path.

The Bible says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). By going my own way, I have missed the main goal for which I was created, and that is what the Bible calls “sin.” “Sin is lawlessness” (1 Jn. 3:4), which means I do not abide by any law, but by my own desire and will instead.

The Result Of Sin
God warned Adam regarding the result of sin when He told him, “[From] the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Because Adam sinned, mankind was put under the judgment of death in all aspects of life: physically, spiritually and eternally.

When a child is born, he immediately starts experiencing death in his or her body. Old cells die; germs and viruses attack the weak human body, and the body ages. In time, signs of death creep into the wrinkled skin and the gray hair. Finally, “it is appointed for man to die once” (Heb. 9:27). This is the physical death which is a result of sin, “for the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

Another type of death is spiritual or moral death, which resulted from the separation from God. When man sinned he lost his open communication with his Creator, and as a result he lost the enjoyment and privilege of reflecting God’s moral attributes. This is the reason we see evil in the whole world, because we have people who are spiritually dead.

Paul gave a good description of them in Romans 3:13-18: “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” These are whom the Lord Jesus referred to when He said, “Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Mt. 8:22). He was saying to let the spiritually dead bury their own relatives that are physically dead.

The third type of death is eternal death in the lake of fire. The apostle John wrote: “Then I saw a great white throne … And I saw the dead, great and the small, standing before the throne … and they were judged, each one of them according, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-14). After living a life marked with spiritual death and ending with physical death, the unrepentant sinner will end up in eternal death by suffering judgment in the lake of fire.

Going back to our watch analogy, think of the watch that advances one extra minute every hour. Is the watch defective because of what is does, or does the watch advance one extra minute every hour because it is defective? It is the latter option. The fact the watch is malfunctioning is a mere symptom of the internal defectiveness of the watch. For mankind, our physical, moral and eternal death is the natural result and divine punishment for our internal defectiveness, meaning our sinful nature. It is the nature we acquired because of Adam’s sin and not because God made us this way.

Who are sinners? The Bible gives a clear, but hard answer: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). This includes you and me – all human beings with the one exception being the heavenly Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. That means we are under the judgment of:

  • Physical death – suffering from diseases, aging and bodily death,
  • Spiritual death – immorality and bad habits, and
  • Eternal death – in the lake of fire.

Can Religion Help Me To Escape Death?
Although people associate religion with God, the Bible clearly indicates it was man who invented religion, not God. This is seen in the first religious man, Cain, when he tried to approach God by his human effort and in his own way (Gen. 4:1-5). Man uses religion to give himself a false feeling of security.

In the Old Testament, God had given the children of Israel a great privilege, which was His law. He gave them instructions to regulate their relationship with Him and among themselves. That worship included sacrifices, a tabernacle, a temple and, most importantly, the Levites and priests. In all the instructions and regulations, God was always looking for worshipers, not the worship itself.

For example, the tabernacle had many pieces that would be disassembled and carried during the desert journey. Most, but not all, of those pieces could have been carried on carriages. However, the pieces in the Holy and Holiest of Holy had to be carried by the men of a certain family of a particular tribe; not on horses, carriages or any other means. It was one of God’s ways to communicate His desire to have this intimate relationship with the worshipers. He even declared His ownership over them, saying, “The Levites shall be Mine” (Num. 3:12).

We may ask, “How about sacrifices, singing and praise, and other rituals that were practiced in the tabernacle and the temple?” They were only needed to express what was in the worshiper’s heart. A sacrifice is an expression of a repenting heart; a prayer is an expression of a needy heart, and praise is an expression of a heart in awe and delight. David realized this truth when he said, “For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:16-17).

The Lord Jesus clearly indicated that point in His discussion with the Samaritan woman. When she asked Him about the required details of worship, He answered her question and added, “The Father is seeking such people to worship Him” (Jn. 4:23). He did not say the Father is seeking “such worship,” but “such people to worship Him.” The Darby translation says, “The Father seeks such as His worshippers.”

Religion cannot help because it provides mere rituals, which is what Cain offered and was rejected. God is seeking a repentant and broken heart, one that realizes the total uselessness of self-effort and work, for “we have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isa. 64:6 ESV). Repentance is the first step to escape death, but it is not enough.

He Came To Call Sinners
Jesus came to call sinners (Mk. 2:17). He is the only One who can make that confident call – a call to come to Him. Once we realize our inability to escape from death, we see our need of the Savior. Jesus is the Savior, having paid the debt of our sin by His death on the cross. God considered Jesus the ultimate sin offering, and because He offered Himself He can call on every sinner to escape from death.

God is calling everyone, but it is our individual responsibility to accept this call. The Bible clearly states that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). However, He respects our wills. Sin is our own responsibility if we do not accept His call and invitation.

Are you a sinner? Jesus came to call you! Now is the right time to accept Him into your life.

* Biel is the German name of the city and Bienne is its French name. Since 2005, the city’s official name has been “Biel/Bienne.”