9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.
11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew may have been a tax farmer working for Herod. He situated at an office in Capernaum and was more likely a customs agent, charging import duties on wares brought through this town on important nearby trade routes. Even more than the fishermen, he had a secure and prosperous job, which he surrendered to follow Jesus' call.
Most people regarded a man of wealth inviting a religious teacher over for dinner as honorable behavior. Tax collectors, however, were regarded as collaborators with the Romans and were despised by religious people. Table fellowship indicated intimate relations among those who shared it. The Pharisees were particularly scrupulous about their special rules on eating and did not like to eat with less scrupulous people, especially people like tax collectors and sinners. They constantly tried to trap Jesus, and they thought His association with these "lowlifes" was the perfect opportunity. They were more concerned with their own appearance of holiness than with helping people, with criticism than encouragement, with outward respectability than practical help.
When Jesus called Matthew to follow Him as one of His disciples, Matthew got up an followed, leaving a lucrative career. When God calls you to follow or obey Him, the Lord wants you to do so -- immediately. Sometimes the decision to follow Christ requires difficult or painful choices. Like Matthew, you must decide to leave behind those things that would keep you from following Christ.
Because of Jesus,Ken Schroeder