After the Taxman
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The tax deadline seemed so long ago in the Spring, but if you ask anybody if they like taxes, most would agree that they don’t like it, but it is necessary to fund public programs. There is an even larger uproar when people here about mismanagement by the Government on tax dollars on wasteful spending. Back in the days of Jesus, nobody would like the tax collector. They were considered traitors as they collect taxes to give back to the Romans. They get their share on the collection, so the Jews considered the tax collector as a thief.
The Pharisees questioned why Jesus would ask Matthew to follow him and wondered why Jesus would want to eat with the tax collector and sinners. It’s as if sinner was not good enough to describe the tax collector. They have a special category of sinner who actually does harm to their own countrymen financially. The Pharisees questioned Jesus’ disciples, but Jesus knows their thoughts. He makes it clear that the sick need a doctor, not the healthy. He desires mercy, not sacrifice. The self-righteous Pharisees do not need Jesus, but the sinners who feel the need to be forgiven do need Jesus. As much as the people didn’t like the tax collector, Jesus saw a person who was lost and needed salvation. The people want to avoid the tax collector, but Jesus went after the tax collector and challenged him to leave his old life and to follow him. What great faith for the tax collector to leave and to follow!