“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (v32). Jesus shocked the traditional religious authorities by “hanging out” with Levi and other tax collectors, people who were considered sinful, non-observant Jews, paid by the Roman government. Jesus and his disciples weren’t themselves committing sin, yet daring to fellowship with that crowd made others question them. Jesus’ answer was that he was called to heal and forgive those in need (v31-32).
“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (v16). In prayer, we find the power necessary to extend Jesus’ love, forgiveness, and healing to those in need (v17).