Summary: Are we to sit and eat with sinners? Are we to seek the lost?
9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
In these verses we find the fact that Jesus saw a man. Jesus Christ did not see a publican or a tax collector nor did He see the color of skin or this man’s class standing. Today, we all too often see a tax collector, a race, a plumber, a minister, a teacher, or a trash collector, not people. We see only occupations or color or class. We do not see others as God sees them. Let me say it again, because it is important that we understand this, Jesus saw a man. Even though this man was, what was referred to as, a sinner and a tax collector who was hated by all, Jesus saw this man as he truly was and proceeded to call this man to follow Him.
Then Jesus and the disciples sat down to eat. Many publicans and sinners sat down to eat with them. Upon seeing Jesus eating with sinners and publicans, the Pharisees began to question the disciples about it. They wondered why Jesus would eat with sinners and publicans. Why, if He is Jesus the Son of God, would He allow Himself to be in the company of these types of people? Why would Jesus wish to eat and fellowship with known sinners and outcasts from society?
Jesus, upon hearing the questions from the Pharisees, gave them an answer. What He said, of course, is pretty easy to understand. Most people only go to see the doctor when they are sick and not when they are healthy. So in the same manner it is the lost that would need to seek out Jesus. Again, why, if you are healthy, would you go see a doctor? We do see a doctor for physicals and follow up appointments however, for the most part we do not see our doctor unless we are sick. So, as Christians, we need to look very closely at what Jesus was saying. He was saying that He was eating with the sinners and publicans because they needed Him. God did not send Jesus to the saved, He sent Him to the lost (Matt 18:11,Luke 19:10). Jesus did not come to call the righteous, He came to call sinners.
What a powerful message we are receiving here in these verses! Jesus went and sat, not just in the house, but at the table with sinners and publicans that were hated by all. Here our Lord and Saviour is doing more than most Christians today are willing to do. I hear it over and over again. "I can’t socialize with this one or that one, they are sinners! I would not welcome them into my home and I would not go to their home." Come on, people we better wake up and start truly understanding the Gospel. Right here in these verses the powerful teaching we receive is from Christ Himself. It is a message that He shows us by example. We Christians go to church and fellowship on Sunday and then we are out about our weekly routines. How many of you go and visit the lost? How many of you go visit prisoners? How many go to visit the next door neighbor who is lost? How many of you visit the homeless shelters to seek out the lost?