Our scene was set last week with Jesus, Matthew, and his friends at a dinner.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. Matthew 9:10
Ah, so Jesus disciples came along too. Wouldn’t you love to know what they thought about this gathering? Did Jesus prepare them for what was about to take place? Did he say, “Now look boys, there’s likely to be a rough crowd there, but remember our goal here. We want to spread the good news to everybody.”
Or, did he just let it happen? I spring for this second option. Read on:
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Matthew 9:11
Were the Pharisees invited? No, they weren’t on the guest list, but often the dinning areas in large homes were rather open. Passers-by could easily see all who gathered. The disciples were likely on the outer edge of the group, probably not too comfortable with the main guests. In fact, they may have been asking the same question in their minds.
In essence the Pharisees were saying, “These people are the scum of our community. Why taint your reputations with the likes of these law breakers? Don’t you realize these are Roman sympathizers? Why would you give them the time of day, much less fraternize with them, even eat with them?”
Jesus knew exactly what was going on in the disciples’ minds as well as the question being mumbled by the Pharisees. Perhaps Jesus hesitated before answering the question, hoping his men would answer. After all, the question was asked of the disciples, not Jesus. But we hear not one word from his followers.
Let me pause here to remind you that all three synoptic gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) report Jesus healing many people by this time, so the disciples have seen His power. They’ve likely heard His discourses on the importance of loving God and loving people as well. So while they have heard the Word from the Lord and seen His power displayed, perhaps they have not had much practice in the doing.
Since the disciples did not answer the question, Jesus responded to the Pharisees.
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31
A lesson that needed to be heard by the Pharisees and the disciples.
Do we need this lesson as well? How easy it is to vegetate in the land of the familiar—my routines, my responsibilities, my joys, my kind of people. Meanwhile, there are people who are spiritually sick around us who need the great physician. Lord, give us eyes to see. Help us to invite them to your ultimate feast in heaven.
We considered the invited guests last week and the observers this week. Next week, let’s see how Matthew himself is feeling about this dinner party.
~ Joyce ~