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. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “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 9:10-13 (cf. Mark 2:13-17).
Jesus has just called on Matthew (Levi, son of Alphaeus) to follow him. Matthew invites Jesus and the others disciples to dine at his house. As they dine, many “tax collectors and sinners” join them. They could be Matthew’s friends and fellow-workers. They also followed Jesus.
The ever-present scribes and Pharisees appear on the scene! They clung to Jesus to find fault with him. So, when they see Jesus dining with the “tax collectors and sinners”, they question his disciples about it.
Jesus hears them. He tells them that they need to understand three things:-
(1) The meaning of “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,” (Hosea 6:6).
(2) The sick need a doctor.
(3) Sinners need to repent.
The purpose of Jesus’ coming was to heal the sick, call sinners to repentance, and be merciful to those in need — the marginalized in society. Truly, the Father’s heart is revealed in Jesus’ saying and doing!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.