Jesus gives everyone a place to belong. He began His ministry by reaching out and inviting others to come alongside him on His journey. Over and over again He said, “Follow Me.”
He first invited Andrew and Simon Peter to follow Him. Then He invited Philip and Nathanael to join His crew. He didn’t invite them based on how society viewed them or what He could gain from their companionship, but rather for what He could offer them—new life, new purpose, new hope, new joy. These former fishermen became fishers of men for their Savior.
Jesus passed by the tax collectors booth, the one that others would have avoided, and He called out to a man named Levi and invited him to follow too. Jesus changed Levi’s name to Matthew symbolizing his newness in everything. All these men took Jesus up on His generous invitation to follow Him.
Matthew was so appreciative that he threw a banquet in Jesus’ honor, and invited all his questionable friends to meet Jesus too. Jesus enjoyed the feast held in His honor and welcomed all His new friends to join Him at the table. Their sins and background made no difference to Him, that’s why He is called a friend of sinners. He met them where they were and invited them to join Him on a journey towards salvation—leaving their pasts behind, stepping into a lifetime of blessing.
Jesus invites everyone to come to His table.
Matthew 9:9-10, "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. 'Follow me,' he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples."