And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named
Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow
me. And he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass,
as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners
came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when
the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your
Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard
that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but
they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that
meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call
the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
St. John Chrysostom in his Homily XXX on Matthew IX said:
"We also have cause to admire the self-denial of the evangelist: how he does not disguise his own former life, but adds even his name…He drew him up from the midst of the evils, much as He converted and blessed Paul also, when frantic and raging and darting fire (Gal.1:13)…Even with regard to a harlot woman, so far from being ashamed to call her, He actually permitted her to kiss His feet, and to moisten them with her tears. Surely He came for this purpose: not only to cure bodies, but to heal in the same way the wickedness of the soul…For why do you marvel if He who has power to undo all our offences even makes this man an apostle?…But as you have seen the power of Him who called, so consider also the obedience of him who was called: how he neither resisted nor disputed…but followed, exhibiting a mind prepared for all things…breaking himself at once away from all worldly things…
"Now the publican…exulting in the entrance of Christ, had called them all together. The fact is Christ used to try every kind of treatment, and not only when discoursing, nor only when healing, nor only when reproving…but hereby teaching us, that every season and every work has the possibility to afford us profit. For such is the quality of a physician: unless he endures the corruption of the sick, he does not free them from their infirmity…Hear what Zacchaeus says – another publican …- when he heard Christ saying, 'Today I must stay in your house':…'The half of my goods I give to the poor' (Luke 19:5).
St. Augustine in his Words on the
Gospel, Sermons on the New Testament said:
"For if we suppose two sick persons, one who
implores the physician with tears, the other, who in his sickness with
infatuation derides him; he will hold out hope to
the one that weeps, and will deplore the case of the
other that laughs. Why? But because the sounder in health he thinks
himself, the more dangerous his sickness is! This was the case with the Jews. Christ
came to them that were sick; He found them all sick. Let no one then
flatter himself on his healthful state, lest the physician give him up.
He found all sick; it is the Apostle's
judgment,For all have sinned, and come
short of the glory
Though He found them all sick, yet were there two
sorts of sick folk. The one came to the Physician,
clave to Christ,
heard, honoured, followed Him, were converted.
He received all without disdaining any, for to heal them, who healed of
free favour, who cured by Almighty power. When then
He received them, and joined them to Himself to be healed, they
rejoiced. But there was another sort of sick, who had already become
infatuated through the sickness of iniquity, and did
not know themselves to be sick; they mocked Him, because He received the sick,
and said to His disciples,
Lo, what manner of man is your Master, who eatsAnd He who knew what and who
with publicans and sinners.
they were answered them,They that be whole need not a physician, butAnd He showed them who the
they that are sick.wholewere,
and who thesick.I am not come,He says,to call theIf sinners, He would say,
righteous, but sinners.
do not come to Me, wherefore am I come? For whose sake am I come? If
all are whole, wherefore has so great a Physician
come down from heaven?
Why has He prepared for us a
medicine not out of His stores, but of His own blood?
That sort of sick then who had a milder sickness, who felt themselves
to be sick, clave to the Physician, that they might
be healed. But they whose sickness was more dangerous
mocked the Physician, and abused the sick. Whither
did their frenzy proceed at last? To seize the Physician,
bind, scourge, crown Him with thorns, hang Him upon a Tree,
kill Him on the Cross! Why do
you marvel? The sick slew the Physician;
but the Physician by being slain
healed the frantic patient."
In Chrysostom's Homily 30 on Matthew he says:
See how He turned their reasoning to the opposite conclusion. That
is, while they made it a charge against Him that He was in company with
these men: He on the contrary says, that His not
being with them would be unworthy of Him, and of His love of man; and
that to amend such persons
is not only blameless, but excellent, and necessary,
and deserving of all sorts of praise.
After this, that He might not seem to put them that were bidden to
shame, by saying,they that are sick;see how He makes up for it
again, by reproving the others, and saying,Go ye and learn what that means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.(Matt.9:13) Now this He said, to upbraid them with their ignorance of the Scriptures.
Wherefore also He orders His discourse more sharply, not Himself in anger, far from
it; but so as that the publicans might
not be in utter perplexity.
And yet of course He might say,Did ye not mark, how I remittedBut He says no such
the sins of the
sick of the palsy, how I braced up his body?
thing, but argues with them first from men's common
reasonings, and then from the Scriptures. For
having said,They that be whole need not a physician, but they thatand having covertly indicated that He Himself was the Physician;
after that He said,Go ye and learn what that means, I will have
mercy, and not sacrifice.
Thus does Paul also: when he had first established his reasoning by illustrations from
common things, and had said,Who feeds a flock, and eats not of the(ICor.9:17) then he brings in the Scriptures also,
saying,It is written in the law of Moses, Youand
shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the grain;
again,Even so has the Lord ordained,
that they which preach the gospel
should live of the gospel.
St. Basil of Caesarea ended his Letter 46 with a very hopeful message of the healing that is offered us…
"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.O come, let
us worship and fall down; let us weep before Him.
The Word Who
invited us to repentance calls aloud,Come unto
me all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
(Matt.11:28) There is, then, a way of salvation, if we
will.Death in his might has swallowed up, butof them that repent.
again the Lord has wiped away tears from off all
The Lord is faithful in all His
words. He does not lie when He
says,Though your sins be scarlet(Is.1:18)
they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson they
shall be as wool.
"The great Physician of souls, Who is the
ready liberator, not of you alone, but of all who
are enslaved by sin,
is ready to heal your sickness. From Him come the words, it was His
sweet and saving lips that said,They that be(Matt 9:12-13) What excuse have you, what excuse has any one, when He speaks thus? The
whole need not a physician but they that are sick….I am not come to
call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
Lord wishes to cleanse you from the trouble of your
sickness and to show you light after darkness. The good
Shepherd, Who left them that had not wandered away,
is seeking after you. If you give yourself to Him He will not hold
back. He, in His love,
will not disdain even to carry you on His own shoulders, rejoicing that
He has found His sheep which was lost.
"The Father stands and awaits
your return from your wandering. Only come back, and while you are yet
afar off, He will run and fall upon your neck, and, now that you are
cleansed by repentance, will
enwrap you in embraces of love. He will
clothe with the chief robe the soul that has put
off the old man with all his works; He will put a ring on hands that
have washed off the blood of death, and will put shoes on feet that have
turned from the evil way to the path of the Gospel of peace.
He will announce the day of joy and gladness to them
that are His own, both angels and men,
and will celebrate your salvation far and
wide. Forverily I say unto you,says He,there is joy in heaven
before God over one sinner that repents .
If any of those who think they stand find fault
because of your quick reception, the good Father
will Himself make answer for you in the words,Itmy daughter
was meet that we should make merry and be glad for
thiswas dead and is alive again, was lost and is(Luke 15:32)