That is what people who never met him say about Matthew.
At the very least Matthew is guilty by association. At the worst he was an unscrupulous thieving Jew, sold out to the service of Rome, bleeding his people of taxes. So, Matthew had a past, but that changed when Jesus said, “Follow Me!”
“As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew sitting in the tax collector’s office; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him.
Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and began dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?’ But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. Now go and learn what this means: ‘I desire (mercy)compassion, rather than sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13 NASB)
Jesus came to call sinners, Matthew followed Him. Can you think of a clearer illustration of repentance or of God’s mercy? Ignore the self-righteous, Jesus does. He knows their life is a show. They have nothing to offer Him, it is He who came to save those who knew they needed saving. Matthew followed. Can you say, “me too”?