Devotional: ‘For I Am Not Come to Call the Righteous, But Sinners to Repentance’

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‘Why Are Ye Fearful, O Ye of Little Faith?’Matthew 9:9 As Jesus was going down the road, he saw Matthew sitting at his tax-collection booth. “Come, be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. 10 That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. 11 The Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” they asked his disciples.

12 When he heard this, Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.’  For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.”

In the eyes of these Pharisees, eating with sinners was the same as showing your approval of their lifestyles. To them, no one would eat with a vile man unless you were comfortable with who he was. Yet Jesus, who was the purest of anyone who has ever lived, was also called ‘a friend of publicans and sinners.’ I have often thought about what the Lord must have seen and heard as He sat at banquet tables with men like Matthew and his fellow tax collectors. Throughout the gospels we read the phrase – ‘publicans (tax collectors) and harlots.’ Apparently the two often went together and therefore an evening at Matthew’s home must have been an eye-opening experience. Yet Jesus often tolerated things that displeased Him. He did so because He loved people.

To help explain His willingness to enter Matthew’s home, Jesus quoted the prophet Hosea. “I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices. I want you to know God; that’s more important than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6 NLT) We often forget that whereas the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart; the second is – love your neighbor as yourself.

No doubt Jesus heard and saw things that day that offended Him. Yet He was willing to make the sacrifice in order to reach Matthew with the gospel. Consider this – Matthew not only became a follower of Christ; he also wrote a portion of the Bible!

In closing, consider what Matthew remembered most about that day. Jesus said, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13)

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