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Matthew 9:12

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

They that be whole … - Jesus, in reply, said that the whole needed not a physician. Sick persons only needed his aid. A physician would not commonly be found with those that were in health. His proper place was among the sick. So, says he, “If you Pharisees are such as you think yourselves - already pure and holy - you do not need my aid. It would be of no use to you, and you would not thank me for it. With those persons who feel that they are sinners I may be useful, and there is my proper place.” Or the expression may mean, “I came on purpose to save sinners: my business is with them. There are none righteous; and as a physician is in his proper place with the “sick,” so am I with guilty and miserable sinners.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Some time after his call, Matthew sought to bring his old associates to hear Christ. He knew by experience what the grace of Christ could do, and would not despair concerning them. Those who are effectually brought to Christ, cannot but desire that others also may be brought to him. Those who suppose their souls to be without disease will not welcome the spiritual Physician. This was the case with the Pharisees; they despised Christ, because they thought themselves whole; but the poor publicans and sinners felt that they wanted instruction and amendment. It is easy, and too common, to put the worst constructions upon the best words and actions. It may justly be suspected that those have not the grace of God themselves, who are not pleased with others' obtaining it. Christ's conversing with sinners is here called mercy; for to promote the conversion of souls is the greatest act of mercy. The gospel call is a call to repentance; a call to us to change our minds, and to change our ways. If the children of men had not been sinners, there had been no need for Christ to come among them. Let us examine whether we have found out our sickness, and have learned to follow the directions of our great Physician.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

They that be whole need not a physician - A common proverb, which none could either misunderstand or misapply. Of it the reader may make the following use: -

  1. Jesus Christ represents himself here as the sovereign Physician of souls.
  • That all stand in need of his healing power.
  • That men must acknowledge their spiritual maladies, and the need they have of his mercy, in order to be healed by him.
  • 4. That it is the most inveterate and dangerous disease the soul can be afflicted with to imagine itself whole, when the sting of death, which is sin, has pierced it through in every part, infusing its poison every where.

    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 124

    Jesus loves you, and I am made glad as I read of the experience through which you are passing, not because you are a sufferer, but because this is an evidence to me that the Lord Jesus is testing and proving you, to see if you will come to Him, to see if you will put your trust in Him and find peace and rest in His love. I am praying for you, that you may come to Him, the Fountain of living water. This is the experience that every one of us must have if we ever dwell with Christ in the mansions that He has gone to prepare for us. You have lessons of the highest value to learn in the school of Christ, lessons that will lead you to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 8T 124.1

    It is when you are prospered, when all men speak well of you, that you are in danger. Be on your guard, for you will be tried. My greatest fear for you has been that you would have too great prosperity, and that you would fail to learn that your dependence is alone upon God. You have been placed in a position of great trust and honor, and there has been danger of your becoming dizzy and forgetting your dependence upon God. You have been placed where you can exert a far-reaching influence for good if you keep your eye single to the glory of God. Your heavenly Father loves you, and He will draw you to Himself by the trials that seem to you severe. 8T 124.2

    I have a most earnest desire that you shall enter the city of God, not as a culprit barely pardoned, but as a conqueror. My brother, will you think of this? If you are true and humble and faithful in this life, you will be given an abundant entrance. Then the tree of life will be yours, for you will be a victor over sin; the city whose builder and maker is God will be your city. Let your imagination take hold upon things unseen. Let your thoughts be carried away to the evidences of the great love of God for you. In contemplating the object of which you are in pursuit, you will lose the sense of pain brought by the light afflictions that are but for a moment. 8T 125.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 200

    When one who is supposed to be led and taught by God turns out of the way, because of self-confidence, many follow his example. His false step may result in misleading thousands. 7T 200.1

    *****

    Consider the parable of the fig tree: 7T 200.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 39

    The world needs labor now. Calls are coming in from every direction like the Macedonian cry: “Come over and help us.” Plain, pointed arguments, standing our as mileposts, will do more toward convincing minds generally than will a large array of arguments which cover a great deal of ground, but which none but investigating minds will have interest to follow. The Sabbath History should be given to the people. While one edition is circulating, and the people are being benefited by it, greater improvements may be made, until everything possible has been done to bring it to perfection. Our success will be in reaching common minds. Those who have talent and position are so exalted above the simplicity of the work, and so well satisfied with themselves, that they feel no need of the truth. They are exactly where the Jews were, self-righteous, self-sufficient. They are whole and have no need of a physician. 3T 39.1

    *****

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 151

    You have enjoyed the love of Jesus, the peace of Christ, in large measure. Most terrible doubts and waverings are torturing your soul. Why not submit to God? Why encase your soul in barriers that will not let the light in? Will my brother see and appreciate the value of his own soul and Christ's work that the gift of eternal life might be placed within his reach? There is great power in the atonement. Your mind is troubled, and the whole soul is in desperate need of a physician. TSB 151.1

    I cannot give you up. I must see you what God would have you to be, filled with repentance and remorse, which will be followed by a sweet sense of pardon and pure, holy joy. Jesus is sorry for you; He pities you; He wants to save you. He is not willing that you should perish but that you should have eternal life. TSB 151.2

    God's Law the Only Standard of Righteousness—God has not separated from you, but your sins and your iniquities have separated your soul from God. You are sin-sick, and you need a physician. Look into the mirror, God's holy law, which is the only standard of righteousness. It is the sin detector. Will you see your sins in the light of the law? Will you have faith in Jesus as the sin-pardoning Saviour? The royal law is before you, and you must meet its requirements. It is the only standard of righteousness; it measures your life and your character. I am sad to be compelled to tell you that you are a transgressor of the law. Practical faith in Jesus Christ is the only thing that will save you; the precious blood of Jesus alone will cleanse from every spot and stain of sin. TSB 151.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Great Controversy, 264

    To those who urged that “the preaching of the gospel answers all the ends of the law,” Wesley replied: “This we utterly deny. It does not answer the very first end of the law, namely, the convincing men of sin, the awakening those who are still asleep on the brink of hell.” The apostle Paul declares that “by the law is the knowledge of sin;” “and not until man is convicted of sin, will he truly feel his need of the atoning blood of Christ.... ‘They that be whole,’ as our Lord Himself observes, ‘need not a physician, but they that are sick.’ It is absurd, therefore, to offer a physician to them that are whole, or that at least imagine themselves so to be. You are first to convince them that they are sick; otherwise they will not thank you for your labor. It is equally absurd to offer Christ to them whose heart is whole, having never yet been broken.”—Ibid., sermon 35. GC 264.1

    Thus while preaching the gospel of the grace of God, Wesley, like his Master, sought to “magnify the law, and make it honorable.” Faithfully did he accomplish the work given him of God, and glorious were the results which he was permitted to behold. At the close of his long life of more than fourscore years—above half a century spent in itinerant ministry—his avowed adherents numbered more than half a million souls. But the multitude that through his labors had been lifted from the ruin and degradation of sin to a higher and a purer life, and the number who by his teaching had attained to a deeper and richer experience, will never be known till the whole family of the redeemed shall be gathered into the kingdom of God. His life presents a lesson of priceless worth to every Christian. Would that the faith and humility, the untiring zeal, self-sacrifice, and devotion of this servant of Christ might be reflected in the churches of today! GC 264.2

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