Tax collectors during the time of Jesus collect taxes from people on behalf of the Romans. They often collect more than required and keep the extras for themselves. The Romans didn't care much about it as long as they get the required amount themselves. So tax collectors are considered as traitors by the Jews, but they are protected by the Romans so people are afraid to hurt them. There's no evidence that Levi is any different from other tax collectors. No one would ever want to be a tax collector and endure the hatred unless he intended to make some extra fortune through exploitation of his own people.
When Jesus called Levi, it's more likely that Levi was ready for it, much like Zaccechias (sp?). No one would give up such a lucrative career on a whim…
When Levi threw a party for Jesus, he invited his fellow tax collectors to join them. These tax collectors may be the only friends Levi had, and so it would be strange if he didn't invite them for the great celebration. Clearly he was happy about the development and wanted his friends to rejoice with him. Why was Levi happy about leaving his job?
When the religious leaders criticized Jesus, Jesus said to them, "It is the sick who need a doctor, not those in good health. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to turn away from their lives of sin." This does not mean that the religious leaders are righteous, for no one is. We can see the logic using Jesus' analogy. When a person is sick, these are the steps involved in getting well again:
1) the person is sick
2) the person realizes he is sick
3) the person decides to see a doctor because he wants to get well
4) the person goes to see a doctor
5) the person gets instructions from the doctor
6) the person follows the proper treatment and gets well
A person can be sick but would not see a doctor if he doesn't realize he is sick or he does not want to see a doctor. Either way, he will continue to be sick. Similarly, if a person thinks he is a righteous man even though he is a sinful man (aren't we all are), or that he doesn't want someone to get him out of his sinful condition, then he will not get out of his sinful life. This is the real problem with the religious leaders of Jesus' day. Levi knew he needs to get out of his sinful life and went to see the doctor Jesus. Many others don't even know they are sick.
Last updated: 11/1/2003