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Those who are sick need a physician

Columbia Biblical Studies: Wednesday, September 3
Columbia Biblical Studies: Wednesday, September 3
George Hodan

Today’s bible study is from the Gospel of Mark 2:17: When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

What did Jesus hear? Who was he listening to in this passage? Who was he speaking to? This is difficult to determine with one verse somewhat out of context and without explanation. John Gill offers an excellent explanation that makes it much easier to understand: Christ either overheard what they said to his disciples, or he heard it from the relation of the disciples; and when he did, he turned to the Scribes and Pharisees, and spoke to them the following words: They that are whole, have no need of the physician, but those who are sick.

This seems to be a proverbial expression, signifying that he was a physician; that these publicans and sinners were sick persons, and needed his company and assistance; but that they, the Scribes and Pharisees, were whole, and in good health, in their own esteem, and so wanted no relief; and therefore ought not to take it amiss, that he attended the one, and not the other. These words give a general view of mankind, in their different sentiments of themselves and of Christ, and of the usefulness of Christ to one sort, and not another.

There are some who are sick, and are quite sick of themselves; they see the impurity of their nature, how unsound and unhealthful they are; that from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, there is no soundness in them, nothing but wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores: their loins are filled with the loathsome disease of sin; they are sensible of their inability to cure themselves, and that no mere creature can help them; and that all besides Christ, are physicians of no value: and therefore they apply to him, whose blood is a balm for every wound, and a medicine for every sickness and disease, and which cleanses from all sin: and whereas such, and such only, see their need of Christ as a physician, these only does he attend under this character.

So, we now come to the last line where Mark records Jesus saying, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” This is much easier for us to appreciate. There is not much for truly good Christians to worry about. Their understanding is comprehensive and their faith sincere. They are already filled with the love and peace of Christ. It is the sinners who must be called to repentance. If people truly pray for forgiveness and repent their sins, they will surely be forgiven. They will be forgiven by Jesus Christ and God the Father and, by the grace of God, by their fellow humans

Luke was the great physician of the bible, ministering to the needs of the sick and afflicted. Yet, it was Jesus who performed miraculous healings which even Luke could not do. If we are sick, it is important to find the best medical help available, but also to pray. Prayer will be heard and, through the power of intercessory prayer, people have been healed. Sickness of the body, the mind and the spirit can all be aided by medical intervention and fervent prayer together. And, together, they will undoubtedly produce the most positive outcome possible.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur, Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor

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