Mark 5:31-32 | Romans 3:22-23

You can’t look down on someone who has needs just like you.

Everybody needs to feel like they belong somewhere. That is why people form cliques. The basketball team hangs out together because they all like basketball and they know each other from practices and games. The thespians hang out with each other because they know all the references to each other’s quotes and have spent time together at rehearsals. Sometimes even the loners hang out together…perhaps to share their strategies for avoiding people?

Christians often form cliques, too. Think about it–the Church is a clique! It is the body of Christ. It has to stay together.

But here’s the rub: cliques tend to be exclusive. That means they don’t let everybody in. And it has always been thus.

That’s why, when the Pharisees and other religion teachers saw Jesus and his crew spending leisure time with dishonest tax collectors, they were confused. Why did Jesus spend quality time with swindlers?

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 

Mark 5:31 NLT

It’s hard not to imagine Peter or some other disciple tossing out a curt “In your face, Pharisees!” after Jesus’ response. It could have been a pretty solid burn. On the other hand, Jesus probably delivered it without the slightest hint of malice. And then he clarified:

“I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Mark 5:32 NLT

Jesus came for people who knew they needed help. At first, it’s a completely revolutionary approach… Most leaders recruit people who think like them. Jesus was recruiting people who knew they did not. But then, it makes so much sense… Who would reach out to Jesus for help, if they did not think they needed it?

The Pharisees only associated with folks who kept the Law in a way that met their high standards. But really, nobody could keep the law entirely. So the Pharisees were a group of people denying their own sin. Jesus called them ‘whitewashed tombs’– people who kept things pretty on the outside and hid their decaying contents. He came for people who admit their own inability to keep the Law.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Romans 3:23 NLT

And since everyone has sinned, the Jesus clique has the potential to be the most inclusive group ever conceived! But Christianity is not for everyone. It’s only for people who know they sin, and trust Jesus to make them right.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Romans 3:22 NLT

If you know someone who is a ‘sinner’, don’t look down on them. Don’t exclude them. Especially if they admit their wrongdoing. How were you any different before believing in Jesus?

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Are you part of a clique? Before you say no, remove any negative connotations from the word ‘clique’ and ask yourself again.
  • Is there anything wrong with spending most of your time with people like yourself? Is there anything morally wrong with it?
  • Is it ever necessary to exclude people? Can you do it with respect and consideration? Is it a crime not to be completely ‘inclusive’?

Application: List of Ailments

The reason the Pharisees did not want Jesus hanging out with tax collectors and the like was that they misunderstood His (and their own) mission. They thought the goal was to make Israel a great nation, but God wanted Israel to bless the whole world. (Genesis 12:3) 

The Pharisees’ main issue was that they saw themselves as righteous. They added to Moses’ many laws in order to keep from breaking any of them. And they expected all this rule-following to get them in good with God. 

It didn’t. Why? Because they didn’t recognize God when He came to them in Jesus. They thought they were good with just following rules and what not. Jesus did not fit in with their narrative because they did not think they needed help.

To avoid becoming Pharisaical yourself, try this:

  1. Write down the reasons you knew you needed Jesus when you decided to follow Him.
  2. Write down the reasons you know you need Jesus now.
  3. Think of someone you know who needs Jesus.
  4. Write down the reasons you think that person needs Jesus.
  5. Compare your lists from #1-2 with that of #4.

Our prayer is that you will see some similarities between your own needs and this other person’s. Do you?