“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”” Luke 5:31-32
Miroslav Volf, in his book Free of Charge (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005) writes about grace and forgiveness. In a powerful chapter asking the question “How shall we forgive?” Volf presents a moving description of just what real humanity is all about. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed to us a genuine humanity in His Incarnation. He became fully human while remaining fully God. He then went willingly to the cross in order to die for us. As Volf writes,
“Christ died to remove the stain of sin that sticks to me as long as I live. Christ died in my place. I don’t need to die to be freed from sin. And because Christ died, I also don’t need to die when I forgive, when I unbind a sinful deed from the person who committed it against me. Indeed, it would be preposterous for me to think that I could ever do such a thing — die as a substitute for my neighbours sin. When Christ died, we all died in Him. But my death is only my own, it can never be another’s. In regard to the sin of another, as in regard to my own sin, Christ does everything alone. When I forgive an offense directed against me, I don’t die, and therefore I don’t forgive exactly as God does.”
As Volf goes on he explores our calling to be fully human, even as he demonstrated that we are unable to be so. We are sinners in need of the forgiveness which Christ gives us through the Cross. His gracious gift to us leads to forgiveness and freedom from sin. Volf had earlier described the way in which his own parents had lived out the reality of a costly forgiveness when they forgave those whose inattention had led to the death of their son Daniel. Our forgiveness cost God the death of His only begotten Son.
When Jesus calls Matthew to become a disciple he opens Himself up to the Pharisees who in their self righteousness thought that a Tax Collector could never be a saved person. In this attitude these Pharisees were demonstration their own inhumanity. How often do we demonstrate the same thing when we look upon others, whether it is a person who has wronged us, or a certain group or nationality, or even someone who has behaved in a way that can only be defined as reprehensible by any standard we could ever apply. Such people are defined, by us, as outside of salvation.
These are the very people however who Jesus went to the cross for. All they need do is hear His invitation to come to Him, just as Matthew did. They are to come in repentance and they will receive forgiveness from Him.
What a precious, forgiving grace He purchased for us on the cross. The question is will you repent and believe in Him so that you might be forgiven and made to be fully human?