February 17

Matthew 9:11-13 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Jesus sure broke the mold of how a rabbi should act. When Jesus called Matthew to follow him, Matthew invited all his friends to a feast. It was his chance to tell his world that he was leaving all to follow Jesus. The religious leaders saw what was going on. They despised the tax collectors because they were Jewish but worked for their oppressors, the Romans. Seeing Jesus feast with this hated segment of society, the Pharisees asked the disciples why Jesus associated with the sinners of the world. That is a subtle way of telling the disciples that they are following the wrong man.

Jesus overheard the question. His response was that the sick were the ones that needed a doctor. If you have something that will help sinners, where do you go? The Pharisees had nothing to share but head knowledge, so they stuck together. They did not realize that they were just as needy as those tax collectors. We tend to gloss over our own sins and amplify the sins of others. Jesus had a word of instruction from the prophet Hosea for them to chew on. "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." (Hosea 6:6) Hosea had expressed God's heart that desires us to show one another mercy. That is more important to God than doing little sacrificial things in which we deny ourselves.

Jesus ended that conversation with a word that had to stick in their minds. "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." The Pharisees considered themselves righteous, but they knew the Scripture that says, "There is none righteous, no not one." (Psalm 14:1-3) They had to realize their real condition before they could receive His ministry.

Consider: Do we think of ourselves more highly than we should? We need the Great Physician every day. Are we making friends only with those who are like us? How will the needy ever hear the Gospel if we do not associate with them?