We’re back in Matthew 9. Today’s passage is about the calling of Matthew.
Jesus saw Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. He told Matthew to follow Him and Matthew did.
The next scene shows Jesus and his disciples having dinner with Matthew and his friends at Matthew’s house. Matthew’s friends are fellow tax collectors and “sinners” – or as the Amplified Version calls them: “especially wicked” sinners.
I’m not sure what that means exactly, but Jesus apparently didn’t even blink an eye at it. He didn’t have a problem having dinner with sinners—of any description.
But the Pharisees sure did! They had a big problem with Jesus having dinner with tax collectors and sinners.
But, like most troublemakers, the Pharisees didn’t go to the source with their question. Instead they chose to ask Jesus’s disciples why he was eating with tax collectors and those “especially wicked” sinners.
Jesus heard their question and answered it Himself. He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Which He may have followed up quickly with one more syllable: “DUH!”
And then He insulted the Pharisees’ knowledge of the scriptures. He said, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Pharisees knew that verse from Hosea 6:6 as well as Jesus did.
Well . . . they had read it anyway . . . at some point in time.
But apparently they didn’t know what it meant.
Let’s take a look at the verse He’s quoting: Hosea 6:6 (AMP).
“For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings.”
Here’s what I think Jesus is telling these religious leaders (and us by default).
I think he was telling them that if they REALLY knew the scriptures, they would know that what God wants is people who are loving and good—not just religious people who are more concerned with following every sacrifice ritual. And that He desires people whose focus is getting to KNOW HIM—not just pious posers fixated on following the letter of the law and not missing one burnt offering.
I don’t think God’s wants have changed. I believe He still wants people who do what it takes to get to KNOW HIM and, because of the time they spend with Him, they’ll be more loving and good than the super religious people with their perfect church attendance certificates.
I challenge all of us to be more concerned with getting to KNOW GOD in 2016 than we are with doing any religious act that will make us APPEAR more pious to other people. And let’s be the loving and good people that God wants rather than people who are known by the world to be church-y or religious.
Matthew 9:9-13 (NIV)
9As 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.”