Read Introduction to Matthew
9As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. 10Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13But 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.”
As Jesus passed on from there,
Jesus went on from healing the paralytic man in Capernaum.
He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office.
Matthew here referred to himself by name. He was a custom tax collector who amassed money for king Herod Antipas. Everyone hated tax collectors because of their harsh tax system; they exploited the public for their own ends. These people had the right to search a person on the spot. The general population viewed them as collaborators with the Roman government. They were greedy parasites.
And He said to him, “Follow Me.”
We should take the words “follow me” as an invitation to discipleship.
So he arose and followed Him.
Matthew’s response to follow Jesus was immediate.
Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.
Matthew provided a meal for Jesus and his socially outcast friends. Note the word “many”; this was a big party! Matthew used a form of dine-evangelism.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
The Pharisees challenged Jesus’ connection with sinners, for Jesus welcomed the opportunity to eat with tax collectors and sinners. These were people of disrepute in first-century Israel.
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
Jesus heard the remark of the Pharisees about eating with tax collectors and sinners, so He made stark statements about those who need salvation; sinners need salvation. The “sick” here are sinners. They need a Physician (the Savior).
But go and learn what this means:
Jesus challenged his hearers to go to Scripture (Hosea) and understand what it meant.
‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’
The “I” here is God. This is a quotation from Hosea 6:6.
The Pharisees needed to learn about the relational issue of mercy as over against the ritual of sacrifice. God instituted the sacrificial system but not at the cost of experiential relationship. These religionists had no mercy on tax collectors and sinners, but they satisfied themselves with self-righteousness.
For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Jesus did not come into the world for “the righteous” but for “sinners.” He called them to “repentance.” Jesus does not call priggish and self-righteous people but those who repent. The Pharisees were not righteous; they only perceived themselves as righteous.
God wants believers insulated from sin, not isolated from sinners.
The Bible does not divide classes of people. Today’s evangelical often cannot make the distinction between homosexual or lesbian behavior and love of the person who practices such behavior. God’s mandate is to share the gospel with everyone. Jesus actively pursued sinners. His mission and compassion had universal scope.
The Bible does warn against undue influence by, or fellowship with, immoral people (Ps 1:1; 119:63; Pr 13:20; 14:7; 28:7).