Matthew 9:13
Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? The speakers were Pharisees; they were not guests, they were only watchers. Such feasts are very open and free, and persons are allowed to come in, and even to take part in the conversation, who do not share in the food. An Eastern traveller says, "In the room where we were received, besides the divan on which we sat, there were seats all round the walls. Many came in and took their place on those side-seats, uninvited and unchallenged. They spoke to those at table on business, or the news of the day, and our host spoke freely to them." These Pharisees were very particular about the company they kept, and especially about the persons with whom they ate. They represent the mischievous influence of class-feeling. They do more than that. They represent the loss of power which all men must suffer who make themselves, their feelings, their preferences, the first consideration.

I. OUR LORD DID SOT CHOOSE HIS ASSOCIATES BECAUSE HE LIKED THEM. That may be a proper ground on which to select our private friends. It is not proper for one who has the trust of power which he is to use. Whether he likes it or not, that man must find the sphere in which he can best use his powers. No man ever did really noble work in the world until he learned to put his likes on one side, and just do his duty. But such a man is almost sure to find that a new set of likes grows up round his duty. The refined person does not like rough and rude associations. And the folk that Christ companied with could not have been very pleasing to him. The elegancies and proprieties and gentlenesses of refined society would have suited him better; and we can quite imagine the circle he would have preferred.

II. OUR LORD CHOSE HIS ASSOCIATES IN ORDER TO DO THEM GOOD. He chose them as a teacher chooses his class, he seeks those who need his teaching. As a doctor chooses his patients, he seeks those who need healing. As a Saviour chooses his subjects, he seeks sinners, who need delivering from their sins. Mrs. Fry, for her own sake, would have sought and enjoyed cultivated society. Mrs. Fry, with a conscious power of ministry, sought out the miserable and degraded prisoners. According to our trust we must choose our associates. If we were here on earth only to enjoy, we might properly prefer luxurious Pharisees; but seeing we are here to stand with Christ, and serve, we had better, with him, find out the "publicans and sinners." - R.T.







I will have mercy and not sacrifice.
God prefers it.

I. Because it indicates more clearly man's relation to Himself. Cannot judge of man's character by outward ordinances, but when he straggles against sin.

II. Because it is more serviceable to our neighbours, Religious exercises may do us good, a pure life useful to others as well.

III. Because it brings the greatest happiness to us.

(Seeds and Saplings.)

I. THAT NATURAL RELIGION IS LIFE FOUNDATION OF ALL INSTITUTED AND REVEALED RELIGION. Our Lord owns that which the Pharisees objected, but purified it —

1. By telling them that it was allowed to a physician no converse with the sick in order to their cure.

2. By endeavouring to convince them of the true nature of religion, and of the order of the several duties thereby required.Natural and moral duties more obligatory than ritual and positive; showing mercy is a prime instance of these moral duties - sacrifice is an instance of positive and ritual observances.

1. That the Jewish Scriptures everywhere speaks of these as the main duties the Jewish religion.

2. That no instituted service of God, no positive part of religion, was ever acceptable to Him, when these were neglected Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 7:1, 5).

3. The great design of the Christian religion is to restore and reinforce the practice of the natural law (Titus 2:11, 12; James 1:27).

II. THAT NO REVEALED RELIGION WAS EVER DESTINED TO TAKE AWAY THE OBLIGATION OF NATURAL DUTIES, BUT TO ESTABLISH THEM.

1. That all revealed religion calls men to the practice of natural duties.

2. The most perfect revelation that ever God made, furnishes helps for the performance of moral duties.

3. The positive rites of revealed religion are shown to be subordinate to them.

(J. Tillotson, D. D.)

It is a characteristic of all false religions to make more of the outward sacrifices we could offer to God than of the infinite mercy He is willing to show to us.

I. THE TENDERNESS OF THE SAVIOUR'S CHARACTER.

1. In connection with what has been revealed to us concerning His mission and life and work. This harmonizes with all the prophetic intimations given of His character. The tenderness of His character has accompanied Him to heaven, a permanent condition of His nature.

II. VIEW THIS COMPASSIONATE ATTRIBUTE OF OUR LORD IN ITS BEARING IN SOME OF THE EXPERIENCES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

1. How should we be comforted by it under our early convictions of sin, and doubts of the Divine forgiveness.

2. It should be comforting under the weakness of our failing hearts, when it is hard to grasp the promise, and faith is uncertain.

3. As it bears upon our slow progress in the Divine life, and fluctuations of religious feeling.

4. In adversity and temptation the Christian has a strong refuge in Christ's tenderness.

5. In death he feels the Saviour's tenderness.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

A domestic illustration of this principle occurs to me. Suppose that when a father is engaged in earnest prayer for the salvation of the world, there rings through the house the cry of one of his children in pain, perhaps in danger, will he be doing ]fight to spring to his feet and go to the little one's help? Certainly he will. Let it be remembered that God is a Father, and there will be no two thoughts about that. And, as for the prayer for the world's salvation, God can and will open His ear when you go again to speak to Him, and the salvation of mankind will be none the farther off, but somewhat nearer, because you succoured your little one. I will put it from the child's point of view. What do you think would be his conception of God if he knew that God would not allow his father to come and help him when he was in trouble? I will put it, so to say, from God's point of view. What would He think of those who supposed Him to be indifferent to a child's cry?

(J. P. Gledstone.)

I came not to call the righteous.
1. He calls sinners by making appeals to the conscience.

2. By preaching an all-sufficient atonement for sin.

3. By means of an offer of reconciliation.

4. By raising in their minds hopes of future glory.

(R. Burgess, B. D.)

A young man was recommended to Diogenes for a pupil; and his friends, thinking to give Diogenes a good impression concerning his intending disciple, were very lavish in his praises. "Is it so?" said the old philosopher; "if the youth is so well accomplished to my hands, and his good qualities are already so many, he has no need of my tuition." As little are self-righteous people fit for Christ.

(Toplady.)

Suppose a man of learning, in company with two persons: the one really ignorant, but highly conceited of his knowledge, and consequently unteachable; the other ignorant too, but sensible of it, and therefore desirous of instruction. Suppose he should turn from the self-conceited creature, and carry on conversation with the other, who was likely to profit by it: and suppose the former should resent it, and say, "If he were indeed a scholar, as he pretends to be, he would not be fond of the society of such an ignorant dunce, but would rather choose me for a companion." How properly might a teacher reply, "Oh, you are a wise man, and have no need of instruction — but this poor ignorant creature is sensible of his want of instruction, and therefore, it is most fit I should converse with him." Such a reply has a peculiar pungency and mortifying force in it, and such Jesus used in the case before us.

(President Davies.)

Suppose some of you, who have come here to-day vigorous and healthy, should suddenly discover the spots of a plague broken out all over you, how it would strike you with surprise and horror! Such is the surprise and horror of the awakened sinner, thus he is alarmed and amazed.

(President Davies.)

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