Once upon a New Testament time, Jesus ate a meal with a tax collector.
One day Jesus was out walking and he saw a tax collector called Levi working hard, collecting taxes and being unpopular. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
Well, there must have something in his voice or his face that spoke very deeply to Levi, because Levi looked at his tax records and his weighing scales and his teetering piles of money, and he got up and walked away from it all.
When they arrived at his house, Levi laid on a great spread for Jesus, his fellow tax collectors and a load of his dodgy mates. The tables groaned with delicious food and everyone sat down together and got stuck in.
But the Pharisees and other religious teachers heard about Levi’s lavish lunch and loudly lambasted Jesus’ disciples, grumbling, “What does he think he’s doing? Why’s he eating with this grotty bunch of sinners and tax collectors?”
Jesus heard the hoo-ha and hullabaloo and turned to the moaners, saying, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I’m not here to invite good people to turn to God. I’m here to invite sinners to turn to God so they can say sorry and be forgiven.”