Mark 2:13-17 The Great Physician.
Jesus had called the first four apostles while he walked by the sea, and they were mending their nets. They were getting themselves ready to go fishing, but when Jesus called them, they started to prepare themselves to be fishers of men (v. 13). Tax collectors knew to park themselves where people engaged in commerce, to take some of their earnings. Some things never change – just the amount collected or confiscated. In any case, Jesus did an amazing thing – he called a tax collector to be one of his apostles. I think I know how the fishers would have felt about this tax collector – we work our butts off all day, and you sit on yours taking some of what we have worked for. Levi (Matthew) responded the same way as the others – he left what he was doing, and immediately followed Jesus (v. 14).
However, before they moved on, Jesus used the opportunity to preach the gospel to the tax collectors and other sinners gathered in Levi’s house (v. 15). Of course, the religious leaders (the scribes and Pharisees) thought that this association with “sinners” was scandalous, because they thought religion was about humans being good in their own strength (v. 16). They certainly didn’t regard themselves as sinners. They thought that they were well and didn’t need the Physician (v. 17). They were righteous in their own eyes, but the true righteous are those who acknowledge their need of forgiveness, and trust in the righteousness of Christ alone. It was just this pride in themselves which was their downfall, because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).