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11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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11. And when the Pharisees—"and scribes," add Mark and Luke (Mr 2:6; Lu 5:21).

saw it, they said—"murmured" or "muttered," says Luke (Lu 5:30).

unto his disciples—not venturing to put their question to Jesus Himself.

Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?—(See on Lu 15:2).

12. But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them—to the Pharisees and scribes; addressing Himself to them, though they had shrunk from addressing Him.

They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick—that is, "Ye deem yourselves whole; My mission, therefore, is not to you: The physician's business is with the sick; therefore eat I with publicans and sinners." Oh, what myriads of broken hearts, of sin-sick souls, have been bound up by this matchless saying!

13. But go ye and learn what that meaneth—(Ho 6:6),

I will have mercy, and not sacrifice—that is, the one rather than the other. "Sacrifice," the chief part of the ceremonial law, is here put for a religion of literal adherence to mere rules; while "mercy" expresses such compassion for the fallen as seeks to lift them up. The duty of keeping aloof from the polluted, in the sense of "having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness," is obvious enough; but to understand this as prohibiting such intercourse with them as is necessary to their recovery, is to abuse it. This was what these pharisaical religionists did, and this is what our Lord here exposes.

for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance—The italicized words are of doubtful authority here, and more than doubtful authority in Mr 2:17; but in Lu 5:32 they are undisputed. We have here just the former statement stripped of its figure. "The righteous" are the whole; "sinners," the sick. When Christ "called" the latter, as He did Matthew, and probably some of those publicans and sinners whom he had invited to meet Him, it was to heal them of their spiritual maladies, or save their souls: "The righteous," like those miserable self-satisfied Pharisees, "He sent empty away."