Tax collectors have never been very popular. I know they have always performed a necessary evil … collecting hard earned money from honest working people to pay for a lot of good services, (Schools, roads, military, hospitals, & snow removal to name a few), to “them there government folks” who don’t always spend wisely. In Jesus day, “them there tax collectors” pocketed some of that hard earned gov’t money if you know what I mean! Not everybody wanted to have them over for dinner.
Jesus surprised everybody when one day He stopped by the tax office, not to pay taxes, but to ask Levi (Matthew) to follow Him. Well, this tax collector dropped everything and followed Jesus. Case closed! No! People do unconventional things when they chose to follow Jesus. Levi invited all his family and friends over for dinner to meet Jesus and the other disciples. Guess who his friends were? That’s right … other tax collectors.
Jesus sat down and had supper with a whole band of dishonest thieves. These guys were not well thought of by that righteous religious crowd. They didn’t think Jesus’ choice of friends was very brilliant either. It was sort of like mom’s advice, “Son, don’t hang out with the wrong crowd.” Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” That’s why Jesus had dinner with a sinner!