It would seem that no facet of Jesus’ life was free from scrutiny and condemnation from the spiritually self-righteous of His day. One particular anxiety for these lofty elitists was the company He kept. When rubbing elbows with the “publicans and sinners” (Matthew 9:11), His character was called into question. His response was insightful: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (v. 12).
Jesus wasn’t excusing those who fancied themselves spiritually perfect, as though such a group exists; He was emphasizing the universal nature of human frailty. Calling sinners to repentance is not a selective task but open to all those who are sinners; that would be… everyone (Romans 3:23).
Beware lest we as Christians today practice a sanitized Christianity. It is unfortunate when Christians will not soil their hands, as it were, by reaching out to someone who might reflect poorly on their self-appointed status of holier-than-thou. In their selectivity, they have spiritually washed their hands of their own potential innocence.
To be effective as a Christian, we must reach out even to those drenched, buried and overwhelmed in this world’s filth. One does not have to practice, condone, or excuse sin in order to empathize with, sympathize with or immunize against “the sin which so easily ensnares us” (Hebrews 12:1). Jesus reminds us that He desires “mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13).