When asked why he associated with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus answered:
And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” The healthy do not need the doctor, the sick do. Go and learn about this, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:11-13)
There is a hidden logic behind what Jesus was asked/accused of:
- The kingdom of God is about purity.
- Any messenger of God’s kingdom would be sure to maintain purity by not associating with evil or unclean people.
- Therefore, Jesus is not a messenger of God’s kingdom.
Jesus’ response reframes the issue:
- The kingdom and purity are now about mercy.
- To be a messenger of God’s kingdom is to extend God’s mercy to others.
- Therefore, everybody Jesus calls into his kingdom is a sinner (because those whom he calls are sinners to whom he extends God’s mercy).
Are you good enough to be Jesus’ disciple?
The answer is the same as the answer to this question: Do you do bad things?