It seems from today’s verse that Matthew threw a party, an evangelistic party. He invited “many publicans and sinners” to his home. In the midst of this motley crew, “Jesus sat at the table.” These dregs of Jewish society “sat down with Him and His disciples.” What a strategy! Matthew threw a party for unbelievers and invited Jesus! He did whatever he could to introduce his friends to Christ.
The “Pharisees,” the religious leaders, learned about this banquet. Lacking the integrity to speak to Jesus directly, they spoke to “His disciples.” They asked, “Why does your Master eat with the tax collectors and sinners?” This was not an honest question but a rebuke. It was more of an indictment than an inquiry.
The question had been posed to the disciples. Verse 12 says, “When Jesus heard that He said to them…” I get the idea that Jesus sought them out. He looked them up and confronted their self-righteousness.
He said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” In other words, “If you are as perfect as you think you are, you don’t need Me. On the other hand, these sinful people are aware of their need for salvation. That’s why I’m here.”
After quoting the prophet Joel, Jesus said, “I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” He did not come for the self-righteous people who think they are good enough to please God on their own. He came for those who realize their sin and are ready for “repentance.” There are still many who are ready! Let’s find them.