The following day, after Jesus concludes His teaching for the day, He and His disciples start to walk home. On their way, they pass a tax collector sitting in his booth. The man’s name is Levi (soon to be Matthew). Jesus walks up to him and, without any preamble, says, “Come and follow Me.” Levi doesn’t ask questions, he does as he is told. He has heard all the stories and knows who this man is. He simply rises from his chair and goes with Jesus. They walk for a while, and suddenly they are at Levi’s house. He is surprised, but excited. “Come in, everyone, and welcome! I would like to ask some friends to join us as well, if you don’t mind,” he says. They all look to Jesus, who says, “Of course! Invite whomever you like! It’s your house.” Levi asks his wife to prepare a meal for everyone. The disciples all quickly volunteer to help, while Levi runs out to invite some friends. And so by the time dinner is ready, everyone knows what’s happening.
The buzz starts, “Jesus is eating with a bunch of tax collectors!” “Sinners! Every one of them!” “Doesn’t He know who they are and what they do?” Many of those whispers come from Pharisees and Sadducees, bent on turning the people against Jesus. Jesus, as always, knows exactly what the people are saying, and what they aren’t saying. He goes out to speak with them. “Friends! Do you need a doctor when you are healthy? You who believe you are righteous, do you need forgiveness for your sins? You do, even though you don’t believe it. But these people know they are sinners, they admit it readily. And so I Am here to help them, to forgive them, to show them how to live righteously. Remember what the Lord said through the prophet Hosea: ‘For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.’ You know those words, but do you understand what they mean? Go home and consider them.” But the crowd is not satisfied. They still grumble to themselves, waiting for a more satisfactory reply.
Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17, Luke 5:27-32, Hosea 6:6