Doesn't that headline grab your interest? Where and when are the first questions to mind. After Jesus approached Matthew and called him to 'Follow Him and be His Disciple' we see what Matthew's first action was:
Later, Levi (Matthew) (held a banquet and) invited Jesus (as the guest of honor) and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) Mark 2:15 (with additions from Matthew and Luke in Parenthesis)
Jesus gave such grace to Matthew that he invited all those like him to come and meet Jesus. Do we embrace people in such a way that they want to spread the love with others? Are we willing to share the Grace that God has given us by inviting our friends and colleagues to meet Jesus?
The invite for Jesus to come was a bold move as most religious leaders would not be caught in the home of a sinner. The table fellowship that Jesus had with them was evidence of His acceptance of them as opposed to the shunning they experienced from others. This is a hallmark of a follower of Jesus. Acceptance, Compassion, Fellowship and Hospitality are elements of Christian Community.
Just imagine what these other folks were thinking. Just imagine Matthew's beaming face as He pointed to Jesus and told them the story of His acceptance and His Love. You may have heard it said that sharing our faith in Jesus is like one beggar simply telling another beggar where they found bread. Indeed, Jesus is the Bread Of Life and we do point to Him. However, once He has saved you, you are no longer just a beggar. You are His brother/sister. You are in the family of God. You are a New Creation. Matthew was new that day. I bet his friends noticed. A few others noticed as well and were none too happy:
But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum? ” Mark 2:16
These leaders said 'stay away' and Jesus said 'engage'. These are polar opposite views. There isn't room for both to be right. Recently, the religious leaders were accusing Him of blasphemy. That didn't stick. Now they are accusing Him of poor judgment, uncleanliness, etc. His reputation never improved among the religious elite and they began to seek a way to remove Him.
They saw Matthew and his friends as scum. What a lowly view. What a painful title. When we look at others let's make sure we see what God sees rather than our own human judgment. Jesus saw a man in need of forgiveness. Jesus saw a man who needed healing from years of judgment. Jesus saw a man who would love him enough to open his home and throw a party in his honor. Jesus saw a man who could write (We have the Gospel According to Matthew because of this day). There are no insignificant moments in this life...nor are there insignificant people!