Matthew 9:9 As 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. 10 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. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But 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.”
The Pharisees could not understand why Jesus would associate with someone like Matthew and they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11) Perhaps that same question was going through the minds of the disciples. “What is going on? What are we doing here? Is this what heaven is all about?”
Knowing the criticism of the Pharisees and the confusion of His disciples, Jesus answered their questions by saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But 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.”” (Matthew 9:12-13) Matthew’s party was a health clinic for the spiritually sick and the Great Physician was on duty.
Every soul is infected with sin and only Jesus can cure us. It doesn’t matter if we’re a publican, a prostitute, or even a Pharisee; none of us has escaped being infected with the germ of sin. Jeremiah the prophet wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind…” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) Jeremiah tells us that the human heart is desperately sick and beyond cure, and that is why rules and regulations will not help us. Though we may try to do better, we can’t. We are like Paul who said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” (Romans 7:18-20) Paul was a Pharisee before he became a Christian, and while he was a Pharisee, he tried to obtain a righteous standing before God through his strict obedience to the law. But though he looked good on the outside, he was still sick on the inside. He cried out, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) In other words, “Is there any hope?” Then he wrote, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)
Jesus was not in the home of Matthew because He approved of their sin. Nor was He there because He was willing to overlook their sin. He was there because He knew they were sick and needed to be made well. “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Jesus came to this world to heal sin-sick people.
God bless you, Brethren.
* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.