Matthew 9:9–17 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 2:13-22; Luke 5:27-39)
9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.
10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to be one of His first disciples. As a result of Matthew’s calling and conversion, he immediately gave the gospel access to people like him, tax collectors and sinners. This was wonderful, but the Jewish hypocrites felt that Jesus should not be associating with such people. However, Jesus responded with such wisdom by tellin them that the well or healthy do not need healing, but the sick. The righteous do not need a call to repentance, but the sinners. Thank goodness Jesus does not mind eating and talking with sinners, for so were all of us.
14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?”
15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. 17 Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Another question is posed to Jesus, asking why everyone else fasts the ritual fasts of the Jewish people, but Jesus’ disciples do not. Jesus answers that fasting will be appropriate again when He is no longer on earth, but for now, fasting is not appropriate. God is among men, and they must rejoice and celebrate, not fast. The statements about the unshrunk cloth and the old wineskins seems to point to the idea that newness of life requires newness of response. The gospel could not just be added to the Law, but must complete it and move in a new direction. Newness cannot be added to old ways and traditions without a disruption. Follow Christ, not religion, and find newness of life in Him, even if it means you will break traditions and eat with sinners. If Jesus did it and won multitudes, then so should we!