Luke 5: 27-32 (ESV)
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
I suspect that the writers of the Bible were very competent at their job as authors. Luke’s record (Jesus having introducing himself as able to forgive sin) shows Jesus dealing with one of those classed as the worst of sinners in the Jewish society of that day. Furthermore he calls that man, Levi, into his close followers.
Tax collectors worked for the Romans. They had the Roman command to collect Roman tax behind them and the right to add what they could to that amount to make themselves a living. They were hated as collaborators with the Power of Rome. And with that power behind them they made themselves very rich by their unreasonable extortions from their fellow citizens. When called Levi follows Jesus and gives a feast for his friends, that is the hated tax gatherers.
The question asked of the disciples by the Pharisees was something like this – ‘doesn’t he know who these people are?’ Jesus answered the question which was asked with nastiness, of the disciples. ‘You think you’re ok, so you think you don’t need my healing powers. I have come to call sinners to repentance.’ I think therein was a hidden hint that maybe they should assess themselves again.
Prayer: Please help me to honestly assess my own righteousness.