Heeding the call of Jesus, Matthew left his job as a tax collector and followed Him. He invited Jesus and the other disciples to his home for a meal, along with many other tax collectors and sinners.
The Pharisees saw this and were disgusted. “Why does your master eat with such scum?” they asked Jesus’ disciples.
When Jesus heard, He replied “Healthy people don’t need a doctor– sick people do. 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.” Matthew 9:12-13 NLT
Many Christians, I fear, are too much like the Pharisees. We take pains not to associate with “such scum”, as the NLT translates Matthew 9:11. We fear contamination from the sin of those who desperately need Jesus.
But Jesus had no fear of this. He came for the sick, the sinners who know their need. I remember a turning point in my life, realizing that, despite my Christian upbringing, I was a sinner, a sick soul. What a relief it was to read this passage, to realize that I was one of those that Jesus came for, and to call out to Him for healing!
May we who follow Jesus be like Him towards others. May we listen for His direction and go wherever He sends us, trusting Him to keep us pure while we bring Him, the Great Physician, to the sick; the Savior of the world to sinners who know they need help.