Fields of Righteousness

Why was He there with them? They were not worthy of His company, yet none forced Him to sit with them. Instead He chose to be with them. “And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’” (Matthew 9:11)

What was He doing, what was He saying to them?


Just as a flock of sheep stray without a shepherd, so too the Jewish people had strayed from the fields of righteousness and were feeding on Western culture. Unrighteousness had become the daily life of the Jewish nation, in their struggle to survive the Roman oppressor.

Yeshua had sat with the tax collectors and sinners to instruct them in the way of Torah, teaching them how to live a Torah-observant life. To live how God intended them to live daily, righteously, holy.

The Sages teach that when the Messiah comes He will explain everything in the Torah, the Law. This is what Messiah Yeshua was doing with the tax collectors and sinners.

They were part of the Jewish people, the nation of Israel whom God had chosen to be a light to the nations. As part of that righteous community they needed to be taught in the ways of God, instructed in His judgements and ordinances. However, the Roman occupation caused some to stray from the path of the righteous. Jewish people needed to return to the One True God.

This is what the Messiah taught when He instructed the woman caught in adultery. “ … go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) The Messiah was concerned for their daily lifestyle, present and future.

And when the Messiah was asked, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Yeshua perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.’ So they brought Him a denarius.

“And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” (Matthew 22:16-21) The Jewish people needed to return to the One True God and serve Him; to love Him in their daily activities, dispensing justice and mercy.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector. When the Master ate at his house, Zacchaeus’ eyes were opened. He understood the Messiah’s teaching, and he returned to the community of the righteous. “Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.’ And Yeshua said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:8-10)

Notice the Messiah’s encouraging words in response to Zacchaeus’ announcement. He affirmed that whilst he had strayed, Zacchaeus had now returned to the righteous community, Israel.

For those Jewish people who had lost their way, and who had fallen short of the truth, and had lived a lifestyle not quite holy, Messiah Yeshua was indeed, “ … the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Zacchaeus renewed was able to live the next day humbly before God, performing acts of justice and mercy because he received further understanding from the Messiah’s teaching. Like so many Jewish people today who, through Messiah Yeshua, have found, and are finding, the way back to God, and to a life that is pleasing to Him.

Messiah Yeshua responded to those who queried why he sat with the tax collectors and sinners. “Those who are well, have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:12-13)

Sadly, there were those in Israel who no longer perceived the commandments of God as the instructions to life, but attempted to live acceptably according to the Gentile administration and laws. It was these who were sick and in need of a physician. On the other hand, those of Israel who could live righteously before God, despite the harsh Roman rule, were in no need a physician.

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) The righteous already see. However, the Messiah came to seek the lost sheep of the house of Israel, so that they could return home to the fields of righteousness wherein dwells peace.

May there be many today who return to the One True God, and His Messiah, Yeshua, whom He sent.

Mark Warren