Matthew 9:1 - 38
ESV - 1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.
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The question appears to be referring to Matthew 9:13 (where Jesus said that He had not come to call the righteous, but sinners). If anyone were, in fact, truly righteous (that is, without sin), that person could earn eternal life through his or her own effort, and would not require the redemption that Jesus came to earth to provide by His death and resurrection. However, the Bible makes abundantly clear in multiple passages that, ever since humanity's original fall into sin (Genesis 3:1-19), no human (other than Jesus) has achieved, or is even capable of ever achieving, that degree of righteousness, because all people (again, except Jesus) are born with an innate sin nature, which they subsequently exhibit by disobeying God's commandments (Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 53:1-3; Romans 3:9-26). When Jesus spoke of the righteous, he was not implying that humans could be truly righteous through their own effort, but was emphasizing the need of all people for the repentance, salvation, and eternal life that He offered, including even the Pharisees (who considered themselves righteous, but who were, in fact, only hypocritically self-righteous in their own eyes, and were just as much in need of repentance and forgiveness as those (such as tax collectors) whom they criticized Jesus for associating with).
The righteous are the true Saints in Israel at that time. These Jews knew and obeyed the bible. They believed what God said was true. They knew they were sinners, they confessed their sins, and made the appropriate sacrifices so their sins would be forgiven. They knew the had a right relationship with God, not because of their good works, but because of their faith. These people saw and heard Jesus, and they believed he was the Messiah, so they put their faith in him, and received his salvation. Jesus came on a rescue mission to save the lost, heal the sick and call sinners to repentance. The prostitutes and tax collectors were keenly aware of their own sinfulness and they readily responded to the good news that Jesus brought. When Jesus saw Matthew, a tax collector, and said "follow me". Matthew got up and followed Jesus immediately. He believed Jesus and put his faith in him. The Jewish religious leaders, like the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, were self-righteous, they believed they were in right standing with God because of their good works, their ability to keep the law. But Jesus was calling them too, because they were sinners in need of his salvation. Jesus challenges them by saying "But go and learn what this means 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice'. Jesus is saying that God is looking for people who will live out the spirit of the law, be merciful to people in need, because God has been merciful to us. These religious leaders focused on their performance in making sacrifices, whereas, Jesus is saying to show our faith by how we live. In Matthew 5:7 Jesus said 'Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy". In Matthew 12:7 "if you had known what these words mean 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent." When the Old Testament calls people righteous in the sight of God, it means they have a genuine faith in God, which is proven out by them living a life that is pleasing to God, obeying the spirit and letter of the law. When the New Testament calls people righteous, it means they have accepted Jesus as the personal Saviour and are surrendering to him as the Lord of their life everyday.
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