And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.Matthew 9:9-13
Matthew (Levi) is typically paired with Thomas when the Apostles are listed, and with the exception of his own gospel record, he is listed first. In Matthew’s gospel he comes second along with the label “The Publican.”
Matthew continually reminds himself and us what we are. We are sinners saved by the grace of God!
There are two remarkable points in the narrative of the calling of Matthew. First of all, Jesus finds Matthew in the act of sinning while at the receipt of custom. Jesus found him, not the other way around. And when Jesus calls him to be a disciple, Matthew stops that sin!
The modern Christian church requires no penitence for fellowship. You can bring your sin right along with you! This idea is obviously foreign to scripture.
The other key point found in the story of Matthew is that Jesus didn’t care for His own reputation. He sat at dinner with Matthew and other penitent sinners in Matthew’s home. Jesus is truly the friend of sinners!
And we should be as well. If someone is struggling with sin and trying to stop, that is exactly what church is for! We need to show mercy to hurting sinners just like our Savior did for us.