And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Matthew 9:11
The Pharisees asked the Disciples, not Jesus … Why?
But Jesus heard the question and replied "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do. 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."
The puffed up Pharisees may have thought that they were righteous and had no need for repentance. Jesus' reply was designed to unruffle feathers. There was no need to irritate the Pharisees at this point in His ministry. Let them think what they would.
Jesus’ purpose was to call sinners to repentance. It was His first sermon text (4:17). It was a common theme throughout His ministry. If humankind had not been sinners, there would be no need for His sacrifice. His greatest mission was toward those who recognized their need of Him.
Matthew illustrates this magnificently by showing the four friends depositing their lame friend in front of Jesus. The man that could not walk, had a deep need for Jesus to forgive his sins, so the cause of his palsy would disappear, so that he could walk. His faith and that of his friends helped in the man’s healing as well. They acutely recognized their need.
Bad men will often use good men to instigate accusations. So the Pharisees asked the disciples a pointed question. It was designed to cause doubt and cause strife between the disciples of Jesus and the disciples of John.
We need to question the motives of those who might whisper things in our ears that may conjure ill feelings in our breasts.
We need to identify the source of the complaining, and figure out the motives behind it. Here, the disciples of the Pharisees weren’t children of the Bridegroom, but children of the bond-woman (Galatians 4:25,31). These Pharisees sought consolation in cold Law, and had padded God’s law with man-conjured law to keep from breaking God’s law. They actually lived under shadows and fear without any circumcision of their hearts. Note, The faithful followers of Christ, who have the Spirit of adoption, have a continual feast, while they who have the spirit of bondage and fear, cannot rejoice as believers do, Hosea 9:1.
So then, the disciples of John ask Jesus, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?" Matthew 9:14
Most men will proclaim to everyone his own goodness, Proverbs 20:6.
As John’s disciples just did here. Criticizing Christ to the disciples and criticizing the disciples to Christ is how to sow discord.
Jesus is such a Master of debate and human ego. He frames an answer that pours oil on troubled waters. People rejoice when the bridegroom is present. That put the situation into perspective for His disciples, but did not condemn John’s disciples for fasting. This is how we should act when someone is trying to stir up trouble.
Matthew Henry says it very well, “…our care must be only to clear ourselves, not to recriminate, or throw dirt upon others; and such a variety may there be of circumstances, as may justify us in our practice, without condemning those that practice otherwise.”
Practice unsowing discord. (If it isn’t a word, it should be.)
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