Matthew 9:9-13 Mercy.
If we accept that the Matthew spoken of here is the author of this epistle, it shows us a not uncommon practice of the biblical writers to speak of themselves in the third person. According then to this self-testimony, Matthew immediately left his work and station as a tax-collector and followed Jesus (v. 9 Cf. Lk. 5:27). He also was not afraid to share his home either with his friends or with Jesus, nor with them all together (v. 10 Cf. Mk. 2:15). With the words “tax collectors and sinners” one is tempted to ask ‘What is the difference?” To be sure, tax collection is not wrong per se, as support for the necessary role of government. However, both governments and individual collectors could certainly be guilty of taking more than was their due (Lk. 3:13).
Apparently the Pharisees saw their payment to foreign rule as a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless, for no distinction is made between tax collectors and sinners (v. 11 Cf. 11:19). We as fallen human beings are very adept at knowing what are our wants, but we are not so adept at knowing our needs. When this need is a spiritual one, mainly the need for repentance and faith, it is clear that regeneration is a pre-requisite. It is easier for us to know when we are physically sick (v. 12). It is not so easy for sinful pride to give way to the realization of one’s need for mercy. Outward religious acts devoid of scriptural truth are no substitute for the need to heed the Master’s call to repent and know mercy (v. 13; Hos. 6:6; I Tim. 1:15).