Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 5:29-32


Before Jesus called him, Levi (later to receive the name Matthew) was a tax collector, despised for how he cheated people out of their money. But he had started following Christ and left that life behind. He threw a banquet for Jesus, inviting his friends – tax collectors and others.

Pharisees and Scribes muttered among themselves, “How could a rabbi, a man of God, stoop so low to eat with such individuals?” They themselves wouldn’t think of hanging out with social outcasts and only spoke to them when necessary.

But Jesus showed how God thinks about people – even sinners. God did not consider them worthless. Despite their wrongdoings they were important to him.

This feast gave Jesus an opportunity to meet people who wanted to know what God was really like. Part of his mission was to share the good news of the kingdom and to reach the lost – those individuals who most needed him. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (vs 32)

Lately I’ve been imagining myself at that table with Jesus and the other guests. Although I know about God’s love, I would welcome feeling it come closer. Jesus brings God close.

What would his voice sound like? What kind of smile? I’m sure he would have a warm, sincere demeanor. Easy to talk with.

I believe Jesus would be interested to hear from all the guests. With kindness he draws us out, encouraging us to tell our stories, helping us know we count. What would we tell him and the others? What would we ask?

Jesus gives encouragement to those who need more strength – those who aren’t sure of themselves. He gives comfort to those who are hurting. All who are present are touched by his love.

Those with disabilities who have been ostracized come to see that Jesus pays no attention to our labels. He looks past our illnesses, valuing us as people. His big interest is in what we have in our hearts.