Ellen G. White Writings

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Conflict and Courage, Page 284

Publicans Not Excluded, October 5

Matthew 9:9-13

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6.

The calling of Matthew to be one of Christ's disciples excited great indignation. For a religious teacher to choose a publican as one of his immediate attendants was an offense against the religious, social, and national customs.7Ibid., 273.

In his grateful humility, Matthew desired to show his appreciation of the honor bestowed upon him; and, calling together those who had been his associates in business, in pleasure, and in sin, he made a great feast for the Saviour. If Jesus would call him, who was so sinful and unworthy, He would surely accept his former companions, who were, thought Matthew, far more deserving than himself. Matthew had a great longing that they should share the benefits of the mercies and grace of Christ. He desired them to know that Christ did not ... despise and hate the publicans and sinners. He wanted them to know Christ as the blessed Saviour....

Jesus never refused an invitation to such a feast. The object ever before Him was to sow in the hearts of His hearers the seeds of truth—through His winning conversation to draw hearts to Himself. In His every act Christ had a purpose, and the lesson which He gave on this occasion was timely and appropriate. By this act He declared that even publicans and sinners were not excluded from His presence....

The Pharisees beheld Christ sitting and eating with publicans and sinners.... These self-righteous men, who felt no need of help, could not appreciate the work of Christ. They placed themselves where they could not accept the salvation which He came to bring. They would not come unto Him that they might have life. The poor publicans and sinners felt their need of help, and they accepted the instruction and aid which they knew Christ was able to give them.8The Signs of the Times, June 23, 1898.

To Matthew himself the example of Jesus at the feast was a constant lesson. The despised publican became one of the most devoted evangelists, in his own ministry following closely in his Master's steps.9The Desire of Ages, 275.

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