9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
If you have a crowd of people in a room - there will be different opinions, attitudes, thoughts. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I once saw a PBS (Public Television) documentary of theologians at a long table - like a dinner table - and the photography was very interesting as it swung from person to person as if you sat at the table. Let's see all the implications of Jesus at this particular dinner table, today we will sit and look around this table. Jesus invites us every day of our lives to sit with Him.
Jesus should be first. We know God is holy, but we tend to shy away from the Books of the Law. We have forgotten God gave us His Word about all types of law - when you read it - you find the Law contains things you've never thought of doing. Shudder. God knows well what humans are capable of. Jesus chose to be part of us. God chose His holy and righteous Son to live the human condition. God has gone to help sinners for millenniums. We do not deserve God. Jesus is still doing His Father's work. Jesus speaks for Himself, He does not change.
6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him
Matthew. Jesus called all of his disciples in this manner. Follow me. And they rose and followed Him. What did they have in common, these disciples: poor fishermen, rich fishermen, Rome-loving tax collectors doing Rome's work and pocketing money with a nod at Roman power, a zealot- hungry for a war against Rome, and a thief who would become a traitor?
This is an important question, why would all of these people put aside their lives and follow Jesus? Consider Nathanael or Zacchaeus - climbed a tree to see Jesus. His life was full, he had all he needed. Zacchaeus was seeking, he wanted someone to see him for who he really was and love him. Jesus saw Zacchaeus and knew him, loved him, didn't label him and invited him to be a friend and follower of Christ Jesus. Zacchaeus didn't even hesitate - his soul had been called, his life changed, his soul loved.
Pharisees. The Pharisees by the 9th chapter of Matthew are not comfortable asking Jesus and they ask the disciples to justify Jesus' actions. Why? Several reasons, Jesus is amazing to them. They see the authority, the miracles, the Words & the people following Jesus. The Spiritual Fruits are Astonishing.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The Pharisees are interested by the disciples, not just the dinner companions. Why? This is not purely hypocritical, this is the Wisdom of the Old Testament. Proverbs tells us to be wise in our companions, Psalms tells us to not be with the crooked of heart. The Law is about purification and sanctification. The Pharisees want to see if this Wonder Worker is real.
(When Christians were first allowed to gather together legally in the Roman Empire ,in 325 A.D., The First Council of Nicaea is regarded as the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church. Invited by Emperor Constantine, about 318 world-wide Bishops, who had risked their lives and were condemned for serving Jesus, traveled across continents and oceans, continued to risk their lives in dangerous travel, to express the basis of the church today. The Ecclesiasticus, Book of Sirach was included in the Bible these men chose.It follows along with the other books of the Bible and is historically accurate.)
Ecclesiasticus, The Book of Sirach 6:6-17 ~ (New American Bible)
6 Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.
7 When you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him
8 For one sort of friend is a friend when it suits him, but he will not be with you in time of distress.
9 Another is a friend who becomes an enemy, and tells of the quarrel to your shame.
10 Another is a friend, a boon companion, who will not be with you when sorrow comes.
11 When things go well, he is your other self, and lords it over your servants;
12 But if you are brought low, he turns against you and avoids meeting you.
13 Keep away from your enemies; be on your guard with your friends.
14 A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.
15 A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.
16 A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds;
17 For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself.
These heartfelt examinations are, of course, true for the Pharisees like Nicodemus or Gamaliel, seeking God. The Word of God tells us to examine spiritual matters and guard our heart.
Who is left? The crowd. Why are they here at dinner, what happened to them?
For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
When Jesus described the end, He was not just speaking of the end of the world. He was telling us we live our lives as if it will continue indefinitely. So caught up in work, entertainment, our relationships - we sometimes miss the good portion.
Who will be saved?
Father God, help us each day to fulfill Your plans for us and the work You would have us do. Be our Light and our direction. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.