“Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?’” (Matthew 9:10–11).
Prideful resentment can lead to the most negative response to the person and ministry of Jesus. Such was the case with the Pharisees here who were angry and humiliated that He associated so personally with sinners and yet had not extended to them, the religious elite, the same sort of social favor. Surely they, the pillars of proper behavior and religious purity, at least deserved a banquet from this newer Teacher, didn’t they?
The Pharisees’ question about Jesus’ eating with sinners (or “undesirable people”) was more a rhetorical rebuke than a sincere question. They were merely venting their hostility and again attempting to put Jesus on the spot. They did not even have the courage to ask their question directly of the Lord, but hovered outside the banquet house to find out what sort of response the disciples would get from their Master.
The Pharisees were becoming more and more bitter and vindictive, realizing they were at odds with practically everything Jesus was teaching. They were so convinced of their own orthodoxy and superiority that anything perceived as contrary to their worldview was by definition heretical and unrighteous. These men were furious that Christ snubbed them yet maintained friendly relations with sinners and outcasts.
The Pharisees’ negative response to Jesus, and their misguided, unscriptural “religion” that worked at cross-purposes to His divine ministry of redemption, is completely the opposite of Christianity, the true and biblical religion.
Do you sense any hint of spiritual superiority in your heart—even the slightest impression that your tenure as a Christian, your knowledge of the Word, or your familiarity with church decorum makes you a little more special to God than others are?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610