The Calling of Matthew
Matthew 9:9 “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.”
Matthew was a publican, or tax collector. These men were hated of their own nation, because they worked for the Romans.
They were also often corrupt, and took more than they were suppose to, or stole from their own people.
But Jesus passed that way, and did something others would not (unless it was in cursing). He spoke to Matthew.
And called him to follow Him as one of His disciples.
By this time He had called the fishermen, Peter, James, and John.
He had preached the sermon on the mount; and a conversation with the scribes, and Pharisees, had been started.
This conversation was about His authority.
Did He have the authority from God to do what He was doing: healing the sick, forgiving sins, and calling disciples?
Many people were interested in His authority; not to submit to it, but to prove it wrong, so they could go on in their own way.
(And this is what Jesus came to save his people out of:
Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”)
So the Pharisees and scribes took every opportunity to question His actions, and His words. If they could just prove Him wrong, then that would prove themselves right. Right?
(Of course, it would not; but sin makes us believe a lie. How much we need a Savior from it!)
Matthew 9:10 “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house (of Matthew), behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.”
After his call to follow Jesus, Matthew invites Him into his home. Anxious to have others of his acquaintance, know Jesus, he has a supper for Him, and invites many.
(Perhaps Matthew was going to give his testimony about how Jesus had called him, and how he knew that it was a call from God; and he had answered it.
They would not see him at the receipt of customs any more, for he knew that Jesus was from God, and he would leave all and follow Him.)
Matthew 9:11-13 “And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
And when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus is quoting what God has told His people in the Old Testament. Verses that set forth what God wanted from His people:
Hosea 6:6 “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
Micah 6:8 “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to have mercy, and walk humbly with thy God?”
God wanted His people to love Him, and each other. The sacrifices, set forth the means of having their sins cleansed, and coming close to God. (They all looked forward to Christ’s sacrifice)
But they were to be given, along with the inward love of their hearts; not just in outward show.
“Mercy”, here, means brotherly kindness. They were always to be helping each other, as brothers. They were to be seeing to their welfare.
And what better way to give mercy to another, than to introduce them to Jesus?
Jesus then rebukes these Pharisees, by saying what His work, as the Son of God is:
“…for I am not come to call the righteous,…..but (to call) sinners to repentance.”
That is what this supper was about. To introduce Matthew’s Master to Matthew’s friends.
Yes, they were publicans and sinners.
But they, like Matthew, needed to hear and see Jesus.
Matthew loved his friends, so he wanted them to know Him, who was the Savior.
This is true love.
Jesus said later:
John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.”
Surely the Pharisees knew that Matthew was now a disciple of Jesus.
How many believed on Jesus because of this supper, it does not say. But love was present; even for the Pharisees, if they would receive Jesus and HIs Word.
To “receive” Jesus, is to let Him come in as Master; into our hearts, and lives.(John 1:12)
Matthew certainly did this, for he manifested the greatest calling of a disciple: mercy and love.