But when Jesus heard that
The charge the Pharisees brought against him, and the insinuations they had made of him to his disciples; which he either overheard himself, or his disciples related to him,
he said unto them;
the Pharisees, with an audible voice, not only to confute and convince them, but chiefly to establish his disciples, they were endeavouring to draw away from him:
they that be whole need not a physician;
by which he would signify that he was a "physician": and so he is in a spiritual sense, and that a very skilful one: he knows the nature of all the diseases of the soul, without being told them by the patient; what are the true causes of them; what is proper to apply; when is the best time, and what the best manner: he is an universal one, with regard both to diseases and to persons, that apply to him; he heals all sorts of persons, and all sorts of diseases; such as are blind from their birth, are as deaf as the deaf adder, the halt, and the lame, such as have broken hearts, yea the plague in their hearts, and have stony ones, and all the relapses of his people; which he does by his stripes and wounds, by the application of his blood, by his word and Gospel, through sinners looking to him, and touching him: he is an infallible one, none ever went from him without a cure; none ever perished under his hands; the disease he heals never returns more to prevail, so as to bring on death and destruction; and he does all freely, without money, and without price. So Philo the Jew calls the Logos, or word, (iatron kakwn) , "an healer of diseases" F24, and God our legislator, (twn thv quchv payw n aristov iatrov) , "the best physician of the diseases of the soul" F25. Now Christ argues from this his character, in vindication of himself; as that he was with these persons, not as a companion of their's, but as a physician to them; and as it is not unlawful, but highly proper and commendable, that a physician should be with the sick; so it was very lawful, fit, and proper, yea praiseworthy in him, to be among these publicans and sinners, for their spiritual good. He suggests indeed, that "they that be whole", in perfect health and strength, as the Pharisees thought themselves to be, even free from all the maladies and diseases of sin, were strong, robust, and able to do anything, and everything of themselves; these truly stood in no "need of" him, as a physician, in their own apprehension; they saw no need of him; in principle they had no need of him, and in practice did not make use of him; and therefore it was to no purpose to attend them, but converse with others, who had need of him:
but they that are sick;
who are not only diseased and disordered in all the powers and faculties of their souls, as all Adam's posterity are, whether sensible of it or not; but who know themselves to be so, these see their need of Christ as a physician, apply to him as such, and to them he is exceeding precious, a physician of value; and such were these "publicans" and sinners. These words seem to be a proverbial expression, and there is something like it in the F26 Talmud, (ayoa ybl lyza abyak hyl byakd) , "he that is afflicted with any pain goes", or "let him go to the physician's house"; that is, he that is attended with any sickness, or disease, does, or he ought to, consult a physician.
F24 Allegor. l. 2. p. 93.
F25 Quod Deus sit immutab. p. 303.
F26 T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 46. 2.