Matthew, the Tax Collector

After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.

Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call therighteous, but sinners, to repentance”  (Luke 5:27-32).

How many of us are like the Pharisees? We look down at certain people and promise ourselves that we would never associate with them. The religious leaders saw Jesus eating with people they would never associate with and they questioned that. Jesus saw something in Levi. He saw beyond the tax collector. He saw a man of faith, a man who would drop everything and follow Him. How many people would do that?

How many people would give up everything—their livelihood and follow Jesus? Levi didn’t protest. He didn’t say, “But, Lord, how can I just get up and leave all of this and follow You?” or “Lord, let me get my affairs in order first and then I will follow You.” No, the Bible says, he left all, rose up, and followed Him. He decided right there and then that he would give his life to Jesus.

Levi was so grateful for the grace that Jesus showed him, that he threw a big dinner for Him. Jesus was his honoured Guest. Levi must have been on cloud nine. Here was the Messiah, the Son of God inviting him, a tax collector to be one of His disciples. What an honor. In an act of great humility and appreciation, Levi prepared a feast for Jesus and invited his friends to join them.

Seeing Jesus with these undesirables put a bad taste in the mouths of the religious leaders. They could not understand how Jesus could sit and eat and drink with these people. They complained about it. Jesus simply explained to them that these were exactly the kind of people that He came into this world to help. They needed Him. They recognized that they were sinners in need of a Saviour. If the Pharisees were not so proud and self-righteous they could have joined them and enjoyed a great feast and fellowship with Jesus.

A lot of times we look at people and form opinions about them but God looks beyond appearances. He looks at the person’s heart. Jesus didn’t see a tax collector, He saw a disciple—one who would later write the Gospel of Matthew. We can look at a bitter, rebellious youth and that’s all we see, but one day that youth could become a great pastor who can relate to other troubled youth and help them to realize their potential. People looked at Peter and all they saw was a foul mouth fisherman but Jesus saw a man who would one day give a great sermon that would convict the people and lead them to repentance.

What about us? When people look at us what do they see? Do they see a sinner or do they see a child of God? Ask God to help you to see people the way He does.

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