The call by Jesus to Matthew is a very interesting event, Luke 5:27-32 (NIV). Matthew immediately leaves his post as a tax collector. But while nothing more is mentioned of what the other disciples did after being called, Matthew throws a party! Who are the guests? Apparently, a healthy mix of all people of all classes and statuses. Luke tells us that at Jesus’s great banquet, “a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them” (v.29). Why? Because these were Matthew’s acquaintances! But they weren’t alone. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were also there complaining (grumbling, in the ESV) and saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
This is a good question. After all, being in the same house wasn’t the issue. But being in very close proximity was, as one could potentially be rendered unclean by touching and interacting with those who were initially unclean. During this time, they were reclining and eating at Tricliniums, which were couches multiple people would lay on, and on each other, while they ate. Undoubtedly, those who partook in unclean practices would cause
others to be unclean. Yet Jesus was there in the midst of all the people. This was perplexing to the religious leaders. “If Jesus was truly a wise teacher”, they presumed, “why did Jesus appear to not know the Jewish customs as he is eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” The answer is simple. And Jesus tells them as much, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Obviously, the Pharisees aren’t sick (or don’t think they are sick). In fact, they are the ones who are following Jesus around! Jesus is going to the “sinners”, not the Pharisees.
It is important that as believers, we surround ourselves with other believers, but not to the point that we aren’t engaging with pre-believers and missing out on opportunities to share the gospel. There are many who are spiritually sick—spiritually dead—who have yet to hear of the saving gospel of Jesus. They have yet to hear the call, follow, and be made alive in Christ. The next time you have an event or party at your house, consider if you have invited anyone who is spiritually dead and needs spiritual life. This is your opportunity to get them into the even bigger party, “the marriage supper of the lamb” (Revelation 19:9), in heaven!