The Lord went to the banquet of sinners that he might have an opportunity to teach and to offer spiritual food to his hosts. In effect, when he is mentioned as frequently going out to attend feasts, nothing is said other than what he did there and taught there. Thus, we see both the Lord’s humility in reaching out to sinners and the force of his teaching in converting penitents. What follows: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” and “I came not to call the righteous but sinners” (as he cites testimony from the prophet) challenged the scribes and Pharisees, who considered themselves righteous and shunned both publicans and sinners. .
See how He turned their reasoning to the opposite conclusion. That is, while they made it a charge against Him that He was in company with these men: He on the contrary says, that His not being with them would be unworthy of Him, and of His love of man; and that to amend such persons is not only blameless, but excellent, and necessary, and deserving of all sorts of praise.