Matthew was a sellout. He took a look around him and saw that the Romans had everything going their way and that the Jews had no ability to withstand their military might. Matthew saw that the best way to survive was to help the Romans, and so he ended up in the lucrative position of collecting taxes. The Romans practiced something called tax farming in which they auctioned off the right to collect taxes in a given province, and anything the publicans collected above that was theirs to keep. Needless to say, that didn’t make tax collectors the most popular people in the area. In that time and place calling someone a tax collector was a dire insult, so imagine Matthew’s surprise when the up and coming new Rabbi approaches him.
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.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:9-13
- Looking beyond external circumstance. What people do to survive bad circumstances is not unpardonable.
- Eating with the “unclean” leads to being judged by the “holiness” gatekeepers.
- Jesus stays on point in the face of criticism.
- Let’s take a look at the passage Jesus is referring to here. Hosea 6:6
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.”
4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears.
5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets,
I killed you with the words of my mouth—
then my judgments go forth like the sun.[a]
6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
- Love that evaporates.
- Mercy is love that keeps on loving in the face of hurt.
- God came to save and restore the hurt and wounded, those who recognize their brokenness.