1. Tax Collectors: The Roman Empire recruited tax collectors from the natives. These natives worked for the Romans, they demanded more from the people to fill in their pockets. People feared them because the Roman were backing them up. They were considered as greedy people without the conscience. People branded them as the lowest form of humanity.
2. Eating together was the deepest form of social intimacy. Jesus displayed his unconditional acceptance and impartiality by participating in this meal.
3. Matthew’s conscience must have been in torment for him to accept the Master’s invitation to spiritual cleansing and restoration, giving up the wealth and privilege of his position.
4. Jesus quotes from the OT (Hosea 6:6). This passage does not belittle sacrifice but demands right treatment of the poor.
· Sacrifice here it means religious motions and rituals the Pharisees observed. They failed to see the real meaning in their routine rituals.
· Mercy is to have a compassionate heart which will find it impossible to remain neutral when it sees a need of any kind.
5. Jesus uses sarcasm and irony when he means ‘righteous ‘referring to the Pharisees. They think that they are righteous. The sinners on the other hand are aware of their sins.
Doctor’s main job is to diagnose the disease. In this process the patient plays a major role. If the patient explains his/her condition clearly indicating the pain the doctor’s job becomes easier. If the patient thinks he/she is alright and gives no account of his/her condition the job of the doctor becomes difficult. We see a similar situation in the Gospel. Jesus is the supreme doctor who has come to treat all of us, but as patients we need to be aware of our ills. Matthew is the best example for the good patient. We all need spiritual cure, instead of remaining stubborn like Pharisees let us become vulnerable to our Doctor who has come to save us like Matthew.
Holman’s New Testament Commentary