Summary: Matthew, Mark and Luke record the call to discipleship of Matthew the tax collector, who became an apostle, and who wrote the Gospel that bears his name.
Harmony of the Gospels
Title: Matthew Called, Holds Reception
Matthew, Mark and Luke record the call to discipleship of Matthew the tax collector, who became an apostle, and who wrote the Gospel that bears his name. He must have been a modest man, because he only gives a one verse description of his call, and he omits mentioning the great dinner that he gave in honor of Jesus. But Mark and Luke give the details about what happened at the dinner, which upset the religious crowd so much.
And as Jesus passed forth from there, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith into him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. (Matthew 9:9)
On that day, hundreds of people walked by where Matthew had his booth. They hated him, and under their breath they called him a “Roman dog”. When they looked at him, they saw a “monster” that had betrayed his people for profit, and was rich because he cheated them out of their money. But, “Jesus saw a man”, and He could see into the heart of Matthew, and He could see into the future. He knew that Matthew would do a great work that would last for ever.
Evidentially, the incident that follows took place at the dinner that Matthew gave in honor of Jesus. He invited many of His friends, because he wanted them to know the Lord Jesus. They were probably tax collectors also, because they were the only friends that he had.
And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your master with publicans and sinners? (Matthew 9:10-11)
Publican is just another word for tax collector. The Pharisees would never eat with publicans or sinners, because they were too “good”. There are many Christians today that feel the same way. However, let’s make Jesus our example and include sinners with those that we spend time with. They are the ones that need the Gospel.
But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. (Matthew 9:12)
The Pharisees asked the disciples, “Why eateth your master with publicans and sinners?” The question hurt and embarrassed them and they didn’t know what to say. They were meek before authority, because they were new with Him and were not yet trained. He didn’t wait for them to answer, but He defended them by answering the question Himself, “They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” He is the Great Physician and He has come to treat a disease called sin! We need to include the unsaved in our “fellowship” meetings at church. And when they come we should make them feel welcome. We need to have contact with sinners.
But go ye and learneth what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:13)
Jesus is quoting the Old Testament here; Hosea 6:6. When He said, “For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”, He could have included the Pharisees. And He could include me and you, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Matthew belonged to the priestly tribe of Levi. He should have been a priest, but he became a tax collector instead.
And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publican and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that ye eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? (Mark 2:15-16)
Matthew gave a dinner party in honor of Jesus. He invited his friends, who were also tax collectors and sinners. Tax collectors were hated by the Jews, because they were thought to be tools of their Roman oppressors. They were given a certain sum to collect from their fellow Jews, and everything in excess of that amount, they could keep. They had the power of the Roman government behind them, and when necessary, they used that power to exhort money. The Pharisees, being super-religious and super-patriotic viewed the publicans and sinners at this feast as being ceremonially and morally polluted. They questioned the disciples about why Jesus would eat with such people, and that made the disciples very uncomfortable. But Jesus doesn’t wait for one of His disciples to reply, instead, He answers them Himself.