Jesus called Levi, a tax collector, while teaching on the shore of Lake Galilee. Tax collectors were among the most undesirable people on the same level as prostitutes and thieves. They were not accepted in society and were excluded from all religious services. They were not considered truthful enough to appear as witnesses in court.
Jesus called a man no one else wanted. He saw Levi's humanity and potential and overlooked his faults and forgave his sins.
Levi was excited about his new life and threw a party in Jesus' honor, inviting his friends and co workers. The guest list was what we would expect from an outcast like Levi. There were other tax collectors, many of them were thieves. There were other “sinners”, too: robbers, prostitutes, drunkards, etc. Levi embodied the relational concept of soul winning. He reached out to the people he knew.
The religious establishment objected to Jesus' eating with these outcasts and questioned his character. There are still those among the religious establishment today with a critical spirit of others who don’t quite fit their expectations or traditions. The religious establishment missed Jesus in that day. They missed him during the Reformation, during the Jesus movement in the 70's and still miss him today. They control the things of the world but let the things of the Spirit slip through their hands.
Jesus was not a separatist. He associated with sinners and did not fear the venom of his critics. The question Jesus asked is not, “Are you good?” but, “Are you bad?” Jesus came to seek the lost.
We need to look at others through the eyes of Jesus. We need to see past people's problems and see their potential. Levi went from collecting money for Caesar to gathering in people for Jesus. He became a leader among Jesus’ followers and a powerful influence in spreading the Gospel throughout the world.
Jesus said to them,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”