“But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matthew 9:13
Who did Jesus speak those words to? The holiest religious leaders of God’s chosen people! They spent their lives keeping the rules. The problem is they were considering themselves righteous. They were very offended by His gospel!
What does the Bible say about people being righteous?
Romans 3:10, “As it is written, “Not even one person is righteous.”
Isaiah 64:6, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a filthy rag.”
Salvation is for sinners. One of the biggest blocks to salvation through Jesus is self-righteousness (thinking I am good on my own). If a person is self-righteous and proud, they will not be willing or maybe even see the need for humble repentance to a Holy and Righteous (the only truly good) Creator God. If people could have earned righteousness by their works, then there would have been no need for Jesus to go to the cross.
Jesus paid the penalty of sin for us, so that we might have the opportunity to be made righteous in Him. But, as this verse in Matthew says, He comes to call sinners to repentance. That is His way, not my interpretation. I too am a sinner who is saved by His grace through faith and a life of repentance…which keeps forming in me Christ’s character of righteousness.
God is good and righteous, and He does not change. I am the one who must change (repent). Isn’t that what the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about? Jesus has made a way to free me from a life of sin, evil, and death….and into His good life and kingdom of righteousness. I need to come to Jesus, repent of the old way, become a new spiritual creation in His family and kingdom, and grow in righteousness. This is terrific news to someone who knows they are a sinner!