Matthew: Jesus Exemplifies The Way Of Mercy

Memory Verse: Matthew 9:12-13

9:9 Jesus Calls Society’s Worst To Follow Him

  • 9:7-9a Jesus has just showed the multitudes that He has power over nature, the spirit realm, and sin. Those who witnessed all the Jesus did, glorified God. Now Jesus is moving away from the house where He was and went down to the seaside and continue teaching. As Jesus went His own way, He saw a man named Matthew—this is the same Matthew who is the author of this gospel. He is going to give us a glimpse of his own testimony—how he became a follower of Jesus.
    Mark 2:13
  • 9:9b What kind of person was Matthew? When Jesus saw Matthew he was sitting at the “receipt of custom” or at the “tax office”. Matthew was a tax collector. His job was to collect taxes (such as tolls or custom duties, etc.) at this specific location for those goods going through his area. Tax collectors were known for being corrupt and even traitors (disloyal to other Jews). They partly collected taxes for Rome and partly for personal gain. They were extortionist and cheats. They often were wealthy because of the way they conducted business and became a symbol for the worst kind of people in society.
  • 9:9c It is to this kind of man that Jesus said, “Follow me.” We aren’t given any more details about what Matthew knows about Jesus, but he must have known much more about who Jesus was and heard about all the great things He had done in Capernaum. Whatever Matthew knew about Jesus, it was enough for him to get up and follow Jesus. This phrase that Jesus uses doesn’t mean, “Come over here real quick,” but it is Jesus calling a person into a relationship with Him, calling a person to discipleship. Matthew knew this. The Gospel of Luke adds that, “He left all” to follow Jesus. Matthew knew Jesus was calling him to “a continual following” and thus he would be giving up his job security, financial security, and his whole way of life. Also, Jesus didn’t ask Matthew to first change His ways and then become a disciple of Jesus, but first to become a disciple and then his relationship with Jesus would change Him over time. Jesus will change Matthew’s life, from sinner to servant, but the first step is faith.
    Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27-28

9:10-13 Jesus Mission Is To Call Sinners To Repentance

  • 9:10 Matthew forsook everything and followed Jesus. Next Matthew makes Jesus a great feast in his own house. Matthew must have invited his friends to come to the feast to meet Jesus. As a new follower of Jesus, Matthew would want to know more about His Lord, which is why he probably invited Him to his house, but He also wanted others to consider following Jesus, which is why he probably hosted the feast. Who would Matthews friends be? If he was despised by the common people and was at the bottom of society’s social class, then his friends probably were too—which is why when Jesus sat down at the feast many publicans (tax collectors) and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. As a follower of Jesus, are you wanting to know Him more? Are you inviting your friends to come and consider following Jesus as well?—This is why we have outreach activities, for you to introduce your friends, whoever they are, to Jesus.
    Luke 5:29
  • 9:11 Now the when the Pharisees—(a religious sect who hypocritically try to follow the law by making their own standards and tradition)—saw Jesus and His disciples sitting with the tax collectors and sinners they said unto Jesus’ disciples, “Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” They couldn’t understand why a “religious” person or a person who claims to be a servant of God would be eating those who are considered to be the worst society has to offer. They were trying to accuse Jesus in the form of a question. Jesus wasn’t approving of their lifestyle by eating with them, but He knew that they had to know Him and follow Him before their lives would change. Unlike the legalistic Pharisees, Jesus didn’t demand change before conversion. Therefore, Jesus is in the midst of sinners.
  • 9:12-13 Jesus heard this accusing question addressed to the disciples. When he heard it Jesus responded with an illustration of who is in need of medical help. Healthy people (they that be whole) don’t need a physician. Unhealthy people (they that are sick) do need a physician. Then Jesus tells them to go and learn what this illustration means. The application is obvious. The “sick” represents sinners and the “well” represents the righteous. Jesus is the physician. So where will you find Jesus? He will be among the sinners. A physician doesn’t encourage a person to continue in their sickness, but his job is to heal them of their sickness. Therefore, Jesus’ job among the sinners is not to cause them to continue in their sin, but to save them from it. Then Jesus quotes an Old Testament verse that says, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice”. This means that the “moral standards” (inward) are more important than the “ceremonial requirements” (outward) of the law. Jesus was calling out the Pharisees hypocrisy. They were focused on sacrifice and burnt offerings more than having mercy and knowing God. Outwardly they were religious but inwardly they weren’t. Jesus says He has come to focus on the more important part of the law. Finally, Jesus sums up His mission for coming to this earth, saying, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He didn’t come to call people who are already right with God to repentance, or those who think they are righteous, but instead He came to call sinners to repentance. Therefore, Jesus presence at the feast of sinners was to call them to repentance and to show them mercy—something the Pharisees have neglected to do. As believers, are you acting more like Jesus or the Pharisees? Jesus was here on a rescue mission—to bring good news of hope and salvation to the worst society has to offer. He came to save whosoever will.
    Hosea 6:6

9:14-17 Jesus Came To Establish A New Way

  • 9:14 Next came some of John the Baptist disciples and asked Jesus, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?” Fasting refers to abstaining from food to focus on God. In the Old Testament, fasting was only prescribed on the Day of Atonement, but many people had their own schedules for fasting. John’s disciples and the Pharisees fasted often. Jesus’ disciples didn’t fast at all.
    Matthew 6:16-18
  • 9:15-17 Jesus answers with three illustrations: (1) The disciples (wedding guest) won’t mourn as long as Jesus (the bridegroom) is with them, but when He dies (taken from them) then at that time they will fast—mourn. Now they are with Jesus and are “celebrating”. (2) You cannot put a piece of new cloth unto an old garment to fix a tear or it will be made worse. (3) You cannot put new wine into old bottles or it will break and you will loose both. You can only put new wine in new bottles. Jesus response points to Him coming to fulfill the law and establish the New Covenant. He will fulfill it by His death and the old way of doing things under the Mosaic ceremonial laws will no longer be necessary nor can it be mixed with the gospel of grace unless they both become useless—including but nor limited to their way of fasting. The new covenant requires new ways.
    Matthew 5:17

Review Questions

  • Who did Jesus say, “Follow me” to?
  • What type of person was the one who followed Jesus?
  • What did he do after he followed Jesus?
  • What is Jesus’ mission?
  • Why didn’t Jesus’ disciples fast?

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