What does the word sinner mean? We in Christiandom use that word so much to refer to those who have not accepted Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One, our Lord and Savior. But what does it really mean?
My question was prompted by Jesus’ comment to the religious leaders who criticized Him for eating with tax-gathers and other such disreputable people. (FYI the tax-gatherers were not liked because in doing their job they gathered more than what was required and kept the difference. They cheated the people.)
The comment is recorded in Matthew 9:12-13.
Matthew 9:12-13 (YLT)
12 And Jesus having heard, said to them, `They who are whole have no need of a physician, but they who are ill;
13 but having gone, learn ye what is, Kindness I will, and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call righteous men, but sinners, to reformation.’
Matthew 9:12-13 (NKJV)
12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
13 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.”
So who is a sinner? I looked the word sinner up in the Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. The word simply meant sinner but the word it was derived from means to miss the mark or err.
I went back and looked at Jesus’ statement with this definition in mind. Jesus told the religious leaders that His interest and attention would be given to those who had missed the mark or erred. Since they thought they were so righteous clearly they did not need His attention. The irony is they had missed the mark. They had erred.
If they had understood that God required kindness above sacrifice, they never would have asked that question.
If they had understood God wanted those who had missed the mark or erred to have a course correction in their lives, they would have understood what their job really was.
They would also have understood that they fit into the “missed the mark” category.
How many of us who are professed followers of Christ have “missed the mark”? Yes, we are in the family but we still make erroneous decisions. We still mess up sometimes. We still miss the mark. Have we, like those religious leaders, not realized that in all our religiocity we have not shown mercy and kindness to people?
We disassociate ourselves from those who need His love and mercy calling ourselves righteous when in fact we are called to associate for the purpose of sharing with others that forgiveness and reforming power we say we have experienced.
Have we missed the mark? Have we erred?
Something to think about. Assess your life.