Matthew 9:9-13 I Desire Mercy WC McCarter
When was the last time that you sat down to eat with someone who was considered an outcast? When was the last time that you went to spend time at the house of a worthless sinner?
The Lord will challenge us today with not only His words, but with His actions as well. We will read of the time that He called a gross sinner to discipleship and even sat down at the guy’s house to eat a meal with many more sinners of the same ilk.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Proper Response v9
We don’t know what kind of contact Matthew had with the ministry of Jesus or the influence that Jesus had on Matthew previous to this “calling.” Matthew probably heard the preaching of Jesus. He had probably either seen or most definitely heard about His ministry. Thus, it is not outrageous that Matthew would drop what he was doing to follow Jesus. What we can say about Matthew’s action is that it was a proper response. You don’t have to make a decision about the Gospel the very first time you hear it, but you must begin to count the cost of following Christ and make a decision very soon. When you hear the call of Jesus you must respond. Maybe He is calling some of you today to follow Him. Make a commitment today. Maybe you have been a Christian for many years, but you have sensed that He is calling you to do a new thing. Make a decision to follow Him wherever He may lead.
Ministering, Not Communing vv10-11
We must go outside of our comfort zones to reach the lost in this community, but we must not participate in their sin. You see, Jesus ministered to “sinners,” but was Himself sinless. Do not fear sinners, outcasts, or this world, but go to them with the love of Christ. Go to them with the Gospel of their salvation by faith in Him. There is something to “meeting people where they are,” yet we must take caution to not fall into sin. Sin separates us from God. We want to bring people to the Savior, not separate ourselves from Him. The Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ Awake to righteousness, and do not sin. . . .” Although we must minister to sinners, we must be wary of keeping bad company. The Apostle also told the Galatians, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” There is a ministry of restoring sinners back to God, but we must guard ourselves lest we fall into the same sin. Let me lastly quote to you what the Apostle told the Corinthians on another occasion. He said, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” My key point here is to say that there is a major difference between ministering to the lost and joining in their wrongdoing.
Jesus obviously dined with sinners. The word “sinners” here in verses 10-11 refer to the most grievous sinners of the community. They were the outcasts, the most despised. Now, let’s imagine something. What if Jesus were to put on flesh and blood and move into our neighborhood? Who would be the outcasts that He would dine with? I can imagine that He would eat with and minister to minorities, the poor, drug addicts, alcoholics, the homeless, homosexuals, prostitutes, and the like. That is not to say that all of these are sinners in the same sense, but they are all outcasts in our society. At best, we ignore them. At worst, we spite them.
Tax collectors like Matthew were hated for several reasons. They were considered:
1) traitors because they were Jews working for
2) unclean because of their constant contact with Gentiles.
3) Sabbath offenders for working on the Sabbath.
4) swindlers because they overtaxed the public to make a large commission.
The Great Physician vv12-13
Apparently the Pharisees who opposed Jesus were not bold enough to do it to the Lord’s face. So, they ask the Lord’s disciples why Jesus would eat with tax collectors and sinners. The Lord answers for His disciples with a proverb, a phrase, and the plan.
The proverb that Jesus answers with may have been one that was well-known, but we cannot know for sure. It seems innocent enough as it stands, but considering the tension between the Lord and the Pharisees, this was an indictment of their “righteousness.”
Jesus uses a phrase from Hosea 6:6 on a couple of occasions, and Matthew is sure to record it for us. Obviously it is an important expression. It teaches that God requires more than external obedience. He requires more than a going-through-the-motions type of law-keeping. Those things are all well and good, but God requires much more. He calls us to agree with Him sincerely from a pure heart. Under the Old Covenant, making sacrifices to God was good, but God expected mercy that much more.
The last part of the Lord’s response is the statement of the plan of redemption. Once again, this statement condemns the Pharisaical system and understanding of righteousness while stating the plan of God. Jesus has come to call everyone to repentance and salvation, all those who come to the understanding that they are poor in spirit.
1) Respond to the call of Christ whether it is initially or later in your Christian life.
2) Move outside of your comfort zone to minister to the lost, but do not sin.
3) Do not attempt to conform to a system of righteousness, trust in Christ’s righteousness.