Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 9:12

“But when Jesus heard this, He said, it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” – Matthew 9:12 

When Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to follow Him, he took Jesus to his home and provided a feast for Him.  There were also many others there with them.  “Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.” Matthew 9:10. Now tax collectors were considered horrible people by the Jews for several reasons.  First, many times they would collect more than was due as a payment to themselves, but more terrible than that was that the money they collected went to Rome and not the Jewish leaders.

Now Pharisees arrived at the dinner as well.  “When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, why is your teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” Matthew 9:11. In essence, what they were asking the disciples was, ‘You call this man the Messiah, the promised one of David.  You say He is a great man and yet, He eats with all these sinners and tax collectors.  Why would He fellowship with them?’  In those days, eating and drinking with others denoted an intimacy and a familiarity with those you partake of food and drink with.  The Pharisees, by asking their question was accusing Jesus of seeking fellowship with these people, these tax collectors, sinners, and wicked people.  What we can deduce from what they said is that there is no way Jesus could be righteous if He delighted in the company of these hideous people.

According to Jewish tradition, not the Law but their traditions, it was sinful to fellowship with sinners.  Jesus heard what they said.  The disciples did not need to tell Him, for He was aware of their words, and I am sure their hearts.  “But when Jesus heard this, He said, It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” Matthew 9:12. This is our focus verse.  What He was saying was, not everyone needs a doctor, only those who were sick.  Of course, the Pharisees were sinners as much as anyone else.  However, as Pharisees, they thought they were already pure and holy, because they followed the law and all the traditions of Judaism.  And since they believe such, they believed they did not need His help or aid.  And He clarified what He said with these words, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13. Again, those He declares righteous in this verse are those who believe they are and do not believe they need forgiveness.

We are called to go to all who are sick and show them Jesus, the one who came to heal them of their sickness, that being sin.  This is why He came, to show this to all who understood their predicament or believe when they are advised of it.  Reach out to the sinners and do not ignore or shy away from them. Reach out to those who need and are open to hear the gospel; no matter who they are and what they have done.  If we are to be like Jesus, then we must reach out to such as He did.  This is our calling.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

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