Jesus calls a dishonest tax collector to follow him. In joy the forgiven sinner invites other tax collectors and sinners to a feast. The religious leaders have two questions in opposition to Jesus’ actions.
The first is, why does Jesus engage in table fellowship with such obvious sinners? Jesus answers: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
The second is, why do Jesus’ disciples feast and drink wine without fasting whereas pious people usually include fasting among their activities? Fasting (going without food) is something done by people who are in distress. Pious people would fast because they had a sense of distress in which they were longing for God to intervene and act through his chosen deliverer. Jesus’ disciples do not need to fast because the deliverer has come – they are no longer in distress awaiting his coming. Indeed, to fast when Jesus is present would have been a denial of who Jesus is. With the coming of Jesus there is eating and drinking and joy because the deliverer has come. The old wineskins of the religious practices such as fasting cannot hold when the new wine of God’s saving activity in Jesus has arrived.