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April 1, 2022 at 9:47 pm #309SulhazanKeymaster
Mathew was the Tax Collector who became a disciple of Jesus.
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.
Matthew sat at the crossroads of commerce. His tax collector’s booth in
Capernaum probably looked out on the Via Maris, one of the most important trading routes in the Roman Empire.
Local tax collectors were employed by the empire to keep Rome’s coffers filled. They had a reputation for charging more than even Rome demanded and pocketing the extra – a habit that did not win many
friends in occupied territories such as Galilee. In the ancient Jewish world, a tax collector’s word was of no value in court, his presence was unwelcome at the synagogue, and even his own family might disown him.
Few would have approached Matthew’s collection booth willingly yet Jesus did. To some, it may seem strange that Matthew left behind a lucrative trade in order to wander the countryside with an itinerant
preacher. Jesus, however, may have been one of the only people to offer Matthew an invitation of any kind. He may have been the first to look into Matthew’s eyes—the eyes of one who, according to popular wisdom, should have been His enemy—and see a human being created in the
image of God.
In that moment, Matthew left the crossroads of commerce to walk the
crossroads of history. Not only did he accept Jesus’ invitation and extend one of his own, inviting Jesus to dinner Matthew authored the Gospel that bears his name. Matthew wrote his account primarily for a Jewish audience – for the very people who had once despised him.
Matthew’s dinner party caused great controversy among the religious leaders, mainly because the guest list contained so many tax collectors and “sinners” in other words, people who deliberately violated God’s law. The religious authorities were
offended because fellowship with sinners was believed to contaminate and in the ancient world, one of the most intimate
forms of fellowship was sharing a meal. Jesus’ response revealed that where others saw potential for contamination, Jesus saw an opportunity to bring healing and wholeness.
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