Jesus Accepts Only Sinners

In Jesus’ day, tax collectors were hated, because they served the occupying Roman army. Usually, they took more than the law required, in order to enrich themselves. Thus, when Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to follow Him, the Pharisees were probably outraged. Their anger increased when they saw Jesus eating in Matthew’s home, surrounded by other notorious “sinners” – prostitutes, thieves, and the like. How could a holy man like Jesus associate with such wicked folk? Jesus first rebuked the self-righteous Pharisees, then proclaimed that He came only for “sinners,” to call them to repentance (and thus to eternal life). Did He mean that the Pharisees were not sinners? Of course not! Elsewhere He condemns them for pride and hypocrisy, among other offenses. He meant that He receives only those who recognize and admit their need for forgiveness. That’s good news for those who suffer great sorrow for their lack of love for God and for others. Jesus’ treatment of Matthew and his unsavory companions demonstrates God’s matchless mercy towards all those who come humbly and without excuse to Him for pardon.