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
Jesus “came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He came to call sinners. The Spirit has me questioning all the things I have taken for granted these many years. So, I started wondering, what does that mean – to call sinners? Here is what I came up with.1
Jesus came to call, to call out, to call forth from the grave, “to call aloud, utter in a loud voice” like calling Lazarus from the tomb.
He came to call us to approach and stand before him in hope, unafraid. To receive his mercy, “to embrace the offer of salvation by the Messiah.”
He came to summon, invite to the banquet. The sinner’s name, my name, on the list, admitted and welcomed at the door. Because he came to name, to give a name to the sinner. Child of God.
He came to call his sheep by name. He came to call us to follow, “to be his disciples and constant companions.”
He came to call me and you, the sinners, the sinning, the sinful, the depraved and detestable. He came to call me and you, the ones who every day fall short of what God approves, who are wide of the mark, the blatant sinners.
Jesus did not come to call the righteous, you know why?
There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Romans 3:10-12
Jesus did not come to call the righteous because there aren’t any.
… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. Romans 3:23-25
He is calling still, right now, today. He is calling those who know they are not righteous, the ones who long for cleansing and forgiveness and the embrace of his unfailing love. Jesus is offering you redemption, forgiveness, wholeness, peace, and new life, by his blood shed on the cross. He’s offering to remove your filthy clothes of self-righteousness, really bad choices, surrender to temptation, stinking continual failure after failure, and outright rebellion, and envelope you with the robe of his righteousness.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30
Take heart. Get up; he is calling you. Mark 10:49
1This was written using the definitions and commentary from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, NAS Exhaustive Concordance, and the HELPS Word-Studies found here https://biblehub.com/greek/2564.htm and here https://biblehub.com/greek/268.htm Parts in quotations are direct quotes from these references.
Photo of tangled flotsam by Sheila Bair