9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Matt 9:9-13 (NIV)

Jesus’ ministry was and is directed toward all who realize they have a need – btw, that would be everyone. It is a very good thing to realize that we all alike are in the same condition apart from Christ – needy – there are no exceptions. Interestingly as well, God has a remnant among all kinds of people – sinners who realize their need for a Savior. Indeed, He tells us in our verses for today it is precisely those for whom He came to call – seeking to save the lost – be it the banker or the burglar, the brilliant or the base, the businessman or the blasphemer. Luke records a similar Word from our Lord:

10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 (NIV)

“Sin is the sickness of the soul. It is deforming, weakening, disturbing, wasting, and killing, but, we bless God, not incurable. Jesus Christ is the great Physician of souls. Wise and good people should be like physicians to everyone around them; Christ was so. Souls that are sick with sin need this Physician, for their disease is dangerous; nature will not help itself. No mortal can help us; we have such need of Christ that we are eternally ruined without Him.” Matthew Henry

The fact that Jesus associated with tax collectors of course didn’t settle well with the Pharisees who foolishly fancied their lives as flawless flesh. They thought it beneath them to associate with the likes of people such as these – being ever strict to avoid sinners yet not avoid sin. Blind to their own folly of their extraordinary religious pride, they could not accept the fact that Jesus not only reached out but welcomed those they believed to be far beneath them. No one was a greater zealot than they for the mere form of godliness or greater enemies of its power. Paul tells us in Timothy to have nothing to do with them – substance is better than show or shadows – obedience is better than sacrifice. Acts of love trump the formalities of religious profession. It is the Ace of spades so to speak:

5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Tim 3:5 (NIV)

Believe me; we are all on level ground at the foot of the cross. There was and is no one righteous, not even one. We must beware that pride is an insidious monster, particularly religious pride. Pride never goes unpunished – a person who believes they are superior to others will eventually experience a downfall. Scripture tells us:

18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Prov 16:18 (NIV)

12 Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. Prov 18:12 (NIV)

“Pride is an insidious disease of the soul because it can turn even justice and kindness into self-righteous deeds.” Chuck Swindoll

“The essenceof sin ispride. The heartof sin isindependenceand the coreof sin is demanding my own way instead of God's.” Pat Singleterry

I think it precious that Matthew having received the mercy of God is now desirous of his friends to know of this salvation as well. By opening his home, he provided the opportunity of helping his old associates come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. True grace is not content to sit and eat the morsels of its goodness alone rather to invite others of its limitless bounty. We were not saved to merely sit, soak and sour. Matthew did what he could. He opened his home and provided lavish hospitality out of his own means. Luke records the incident as follows:

29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. Luke 5:29 (NIV)

“To show what true religion consists in: not in external observances, but in doing all the good we can to the bodies and souls of others in righteousness and peace.” Matthew Henry

We grasp Scripture more fully when we not only observe its Truth but apply them to our lives. Head knowledge puffs up yet falls flat - it is love which edifies.

What I Glean

  • Jesus directed His ministry to those who realized their need.
  • Our Lord came to save and seek the lost.
  • I am to be a conduit of Christ’s love to others.