Are You the Kind of Person Jesus Would Hang With?

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man named Matthew, sitting at his tax collector's booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him.

So Matthew got up and followed him. Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call NOT those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Jesus was not confused about the type of people he was sitting down to have dinner with. Matthew had invited his friends and fellow employees; and Jesus and his disciples, to share a meal. What a scene that must have been—tax collectors, sinners, and fishermen. I would love to have been looking through the window at that bunch. Apparently the Pharisees were looking through the window and they did not like what they saw. They even got close enough to the party to ask Jesus’ disciples about the scum he was eating with. I’m sure they even considered his disciples scum. Well, before his disciples got the chance to answer for him, Jesus looked up at the Pharisees and said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”

First of all, Pharisees simply did not like tax collectors, because they collected money for the Romans and were known to overcharge and skim off the top, and they certainly did not like sinners. Secondly, Pharisees didn’t know they were sinners. They loved to demonstrate their supposed righteousness by making sacrifices, and in very showy ways, I might add. Jesus, knowing they did not consider themselves sinful basically said okay, I didn’t come for you because, you think you are well, but I did come for these because they know they are sick. And because Jesus knew they loved to make sacrifices and considered themselves quite skilled in the ‘scriptures’ he told them, “Go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’”

Now if they really did know the ‘word’ as well as they thought they did, then they knew he was quoting from Hosea (6:6). However, it was not mercy that they were interested in. They weren't even interested in Jesus. They were only interested in themselves and maintaining their own status quo and Jesus was a threat to both. For you see, whether we think of ourselves as righteous or sinful, healthy or sick, Jesus proved time after time that we all need him. Whether we recognize that or not is entirely up to us.

Randall Mooney


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