The Gospel according to Matthew (9:9-13)
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Jesus did not come for the “righteous” but came for “sinners.” Thank God! It may be surprising at first because it seems that Jesus should have said that He came for all people, the righteous and the sinner. But what we must understand is that no one is truly righteous. In other words, everyone is a sinner in need of the Savior.
Jesus is addressing the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisees who seemed to think that Jesus should only associate with those who were without sin. The Pharisees acted as if they were “righteous” and that Jesus should only associate with them and any others who were not publicly known to be sinners.
In reality we see that the sin of the Pharisees was of a far graver nature than the sins of the tax collectors and the other sinners who came to Jesus. The Pharisees were guilty of the sin of spiritual pride and were sinning by presuming that they were righteous. When one fails to see their sin, God cannot forgive them since they do not repent.
Though this is a powerful condemnation of the Pharisees and others who are guilty of being self-righteous, it is also an invitation from Jesus to all who readily admit their sin. When we can humble ourselves before the perfection of God and see our sins in the light of His glory, we will be tempted to despair and feel shame for our sin. But shame will turn into joy and freedom when we allow our Lord to act as the Divine Physician in our lives. The purpose of His earthly life was to bring healing to our wounds of sin. When we realize how His perfect mercy perfectly heals us, we will readily run to Him.
Reflect, today, upon how ready and willing you are to confess your sin to Jesus. Do not hesitate to trust in His perfect love for you and to open yourself up fully to His divine mercy.