Matthew 9:10-13 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with Him and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
On hearing this Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus spent His whole ministry showing the people how He loved them. He did not spurn sinners but welcomed them into His presence. The first one that He revealed His identity to was the Samaritan woman at the well. Not exactly the cream of society. He chose men that had no great theological education to be the ones to preach the good news. He ate with lepers and tax collectors and “sinners”. On the whole, they treated Him far better than the religious
The religious leaders knew all the prophecies and promises of the coming Messiah, yet when He stood among them, they rejected Him because He didn’t fit what they wanted. They wanted the conquering king, not the sacrificial Lamb that scripture also spoke of. If the self-righteous leaders acknowledged His deity, they would have to repent and confess their sinfulness. That would never fit into their public image.
Jesus preferred to be with those that hungered to be more righteous and to serve the Lord in a more honest way. He wanted the people to rely on Him and His mercy. Too many relied on their possessions and riches to protect them from life’s struggles. That hasn’t changed from two thousand years ago. We still put Jesus as the last resort and not the first.
Jesus is calling us, His people, to repentance and confession. He is calling us to be honest with ourselves as well as with Him. He already knows our sinfulness and yet loves us with an everlasting love. He desires us to spend time in His presence, just as we are. His love is filled with mercy and grace and a deep well of forgiveness. He doesn’t want us to clean up our act first. He wants us to allow Him into our sinful lives so He can change us into a royal priesthood, holy and acceptable in His sight.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.