Mark 2:17 - Who Needs Christ The Righteous or Sinners?

Mark 2:17 - Who Needs Christ - The Righteous or Sinners?

Mark 2:17 (KJV)  When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They 
that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: 
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 

Mark 2:17 (NLT)  When Jesus heard this, he told them, "Healthy 
people don't' need a doctor - sick people do .  I have come to call 
sinners, not those who think they are already good enough." 

Mark 2:17 (CWR)  When Jesus overheard their conversation, He 
said to them, "People who are well don't need a physician, only 
people who are sick.  I did not come to call to salvation those who 
think they've achieved righteousness, but those who are asking God for 

Jesus calls a tax collector (under contract to the Romans to 
collect sales and transit taxes) to become one of his followers. On the 
grounds of their inescapable and constant violation of both Jewish 
ritual purity and nationalist loyalty, tax collectors were despised by 
pious Jews. Jesus defends his action on the ground that his mission is 
to call to the life of the new community those denounced on ritual, 
moral and other grounds as sinners. [Cambridge Annotated SB]  

In this instance Jesus was speaking tongue-in-cheek when He used 
the word righteous. None are righteous, though some, such as the 
Pharisees, fancied themselves as such. Instead, Christ came to call sinners 
to repentance. Jesus did not condone the activities of sinners, but 
required repentance--a change of mind that recognizes the need of a Savior 
and recognizes Jesus Christ as the only Savior. [Nelson SB] 

He fellowships with "sinners", Why? Because they are sick, and 
He is the only Physician who can heal them. They are hungry and 
lonely, and He is the Bridegroom who asks them to His wedding feast. 
Their lives are in tatters, and He wants to give them a new robe of 
righteousness. Others may be able to patch up life, but He alone can give new 
life. [Chapter by Chapter Bible Commentary by Warren Wiersbe] 

It sounds at first hearing as if Jesus had no use for good 
people. But the point of it is that the one person for whom Jesus can do 
nothing is the person who thinks himself so good that he does not need 
anything done for him; and the one person for whom Jesus can do 
everything is the person who is a sinner and knows it and who longs in his 
heart for a cure. To have no sense of need is to have erected a 
barrier between us and Jesus; to have a sense of need is to possess the 
passport to his presence. [Barclay Commentary] 

A self-righteous man does not realize his need for salvation, 
but an admitted sinner does. [NIV SB] 

No matter who you are or what your life has been, you can be 
saved only in God's appointed way. You must repent; you must fall 
helpless on the Rock, Christ Jesus. You must feel your need of a 
physician and of the one only remedy for sin, the blood of Christ. This 
remedy can be secured only by repentance toward God and faith toward 
our Lord Jesus Christ. Here the work is yet to be begun by many who 
profess to be Christians and even to be ministers of Christ. Like the 
Pharisees of old many of you feel no need of a Saviour. You are 
self-sufficient, self-exalted. Said Christ: "I came not to call the righteous, 
but sinners to repentance." The blood of Christ will avail for none 
but those who feel their need of its cleansing power.  5T218,219 

It is tragic when Christians today, like the Pharisees of 
Christ's time, are so zealously committed to the less important 
implications of faith's lifestyle that they ignore that which has priority 
with God. How often our commitment to our particular doctrinal 
distinctives seems more important to us than fulfilling Christ's command to 
love our brothers and sisters in the Lord (John 13:34-35). How often 
our fear of contamination makes us uncomfortable with today's 
"sinners," when we ought instead to be so filled with compassion that we 
reach out to touch them. [Victor Bible Background Commentary]  

The self-righteous Pharisees were indignant that Jesus would eat 
a meal with such sinners. But Jesus gladly associated with sinners 
because he loved them and because he knew that they needed to hear what 
he had to say. Jesus spent time with whoever needed or wanted to 
hear his message--poor, rich, bad, good. We, too, must befriend those 
who need Christ, even if they do not seem to be ideal companions. 
Are there people you have been neglecting because of their 
reputation? They may be the ones who most need to see and hear the message 
of Christ's love in and from you. [Life Application SB] 

Who really counts in life? Do those without position, power; 
health, or wealth really matter? Or is their only hope in somehow 
climbing to the top of the heap? 
Each of the four Gospel writers helps the reader meet the 
significant people in Jesus' life. Most were distinctly insignificant when 
evaluated by the traditional criteria for importance. The paralytic let 
down from the roof (v. 3), for example, blended into the background 
until touched by Jesus. Likewise, the rest were generally not wealthy 
or famous, nor were they social, business, or government leaders. 
They were little people of the world with problems and needs similar 
to ours.  
Note the cluster of people in each of the writers' first few 
* Four women touched by scandal (1:3, 5-6)
* A young couple dealing with a complicated engagement (1:18-21)
* Three advisors from a foreign government (2:1-12)
* Countless baby boys who are slaughtered (2:16-18)
* A wilderness man who becomes Jesus' forerunner (3:1-17)
* Four fishermen (1:16-20)
* A man oppressed by a demon (1:23-27)
* A feverish mother-in-law (1:29-31)
* Many sick and oppressed (1 :32-34)
* An outcast leper (1:40-42)
* A paralytic (2: 1-12)
* A despised tax-collector (2: 13-17)
* A barren elderly couple (1 :5-25)
* An expectant couple (1:26-38)
* A baby born amid confusion (1:57-80)
* Startled shepherds (2:8-20)
* An aged, saintly man (2:25-35)
* An elderly widow with a gift of prophecy (2:36-38)
* A puzzling religious pioneer (1:19-35)
* Two fishermen (1:35-42)
* The fishermen's friend (1 :43-44)
* A skeptical critic (1 :45-51)
* An enquirer who prefers a low profile (3:1-21)
* A minority woman touched by scandal (4: 1-42)
* A nobleman's ill son (4:46-54)
As Scripture introduces the Savior, it shows us lots of little 
people, and for good reason: the people ready for God's help are not the 
ones insulated from trouble by possessions, health, or status, but 
those who know their needs. Brokenness makes one ready to turn to God 
for help. In Him is the forgiveness and hope that can overcome human 
Are you trapped in the world's system of climbing over others to 
gain significance? Or have you allowed God to help you break that 
bondage? If so, are you following Jesus among the "little people," 
wherever they are struggling and groping for help? [Word In Life SB] 

A basic tenet of the religious in the first century was that to 
remain "clean," they must isolate themselves from "sinners." If they 
had any contact with sinners, they would surely be contaminated! To 
see Christ eating with such people shocked the delegation of 
religious leaders come to Galilee to pass judgment on the young Prophet. 
We need to take Jesus' example to heart today, and meditate on 
His answer. Jesus came to heal the spiritually sick, not to retreat 
to some spa where He could lie around with the righteous. Nor is 
our mission to the spiritually healthy, but to sinners who need to 
be called back to God. 
Jesus lived, and teaches us to live, a dynamic kind of holiness. 
Our holiness is not attained by isolating ourselves from sinners, 
but by being constantly filled with love for God and for others. 
[The 365-Day Devotional Commentary] 

We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they 
believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by 
showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their 
hearts to know the source of it. Madeleine L'Engle, [Word In Life SB]