27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,”(B) Jesus said to him,28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.(C)
29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors(D) and others were eating with them.30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect(E) complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”(F)
31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”(G)
In Jesus’ time, the Jewish people hated tax collectors who worked for and with the pagan Romans. Jesus knew that the tax collector was a synonym for sinner. But in his unconditional grace and good purpose, Jesus called Levi a tax collector by commanding him to follow him. He called Levi to change him, make him a disciple, and later on, an apostle. Jesus is in the ministry of change. He calls sinners from all walks of life. He changes them to be his people. He isn’t waiting around until sinners get better and more righteous. He calls us as he finds us. Levi left everything and followed Jesus. To follow Jesus, we are to leave what keeps us from following him.
With joy and a thankful heart, Levi threw a party for Jesus. He invited Jesus, the disciples, and a large crowd of tax collectors. But the religious leaders complained to the disciples who enjoyed the “sinners’ party.” Jesus told them that he came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Jesus came to the party to call and save Levi and sinners. Jesus is for sinners. Everyone is sick with sin. But there is Jesus, the heavenly doctor who forgives us, saves us and makes us his disciples.
Prayer: Lord, thank you so much for calling me to repentance. Help me to follow Jesus who heals and leads me to heaven.