Summary: Character study Matthew (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Matthew chapter 9 verses 9-13.
• An old man was wondering if his wife had a hearing problem.
• So one night, he stood behind her while she was sitting in her lounge chair.
• He spoke softly to her, "Honey, can you hear me?"
• There was no response.
• He moved a little closer and said again,
• "Honey, can you hear me?" Still, there was no response.
• Finally he moved right behind her and said, "Honey, can you hear me?"
• She replied, "For the third time, Yes!"
When Jesus called Matthew - Matthew heard that calling loud and clear!
• In the verses we are looking at today, he records that calling!
• They are very important verses in connection to Matthew.
• Not too much is said about Matthew after this incident;
• It certainly the only time he is centre stage with the spot light on him.
• In these verses this morn/evening;
• Matthew actually records his own call to discipleship,
• And as he records his testimony, you will notice there is no exaggeration or boasting,
• But humility is very much a quality of his character that will shine through.
An Occupation (vs 9a):
• Matthew’s occupation was that of a tax-collector.
• In first century Palestine people did not like paying taxes – same is true today!
• People who complain about paying their income tax can be divided into two types:
• Men and women.
• What's the difference between an overzealous tax auditor and a rottweiler?
• A rottweiler eventually lets go!
• If a lawyer & an tax inspector were both drowning, and you could only save one of them,
• Would you carry on watching TV or read the paper?
• What is the difference between a terrorist and a tax inspector?
• You can negotiate with a terrorist.
In first century Palestine people did not like paying taxes – same is true today!
• Matthew was a tax-collector.
• Note: Only Matthew tells us this uncomfortable fact about himself.
• Both Luke and Mark in their gospels miss out this fact.
• But Matthew is humble enough to admit it!
The main trade route from Syria to Egypt went through Galilee,
• And Capernaum acted as a tax station;
• It was a good station to be at, besides regular taxes paid by residents;
• Travellers had to stop, present their imported products to the tax official,
• And pay their taxes,
• Matthew was apparently one of the tax officials working at this tax station ..
• And each day he went to 'the office' or in his case the 'tax-booth '.
These tax officials were very unpopular with the Jewish people for at least 3 reasons:
(A). THEY WERE DISHONEST.
• Often they were extortionists,
• Making themselves rich by taking too much money from their fellow Jews.
• The Roman government devised a system;
• To collect taxes as efficiently and as cheaply as possible.
• They did this by auctioning the right to collect taxes in a certain area.
• The man who bought that right was responsible to the Roman government for an agreed sum;
• Anything he could raise over and above that;
• He was allowed to keep as commission.
• Not only did they fleece their own countrymen,
• But they also did their best to swindle the government,
• And they made a flourishing income by taking bribes from rich people;
• Who wished to avoid taxes which they should have paid.
• On one occasion when tax-collectors asked John the baptiser, how they should live;
• His reply was basic and straight to the point; "be honest!"
“One of the greatest miracles that Jesus Christ performs today,
is to take a dishonest person, from a dishonest world,
make that person honest,
then place them back in a dishonest world and keep them honest!”
(B). THEY WERE TRIATORS.
• They were also hated because they were working for the Romans,
• Although they worked for them indirectly.
• The Romans contracted out to people like the Herod's.
• He ran the region on behalf of the Romans.
• The Herod’s contracted out to people like Matthew;
• Those who were willing to buy the position from them at great cost.
(C). THEY WERE SINNERS.
• They were disliked because they ignored the Jewish laws.
• This explains why the Pharisees called them 'sinners ' (verse 11).
A sinner was someone who chose to live outside of God's laws.
• e.g. If you chose to work on the Sabbath,
• e.g. If you did not follow dietary laws (ate pork).
• According to Jewish law a tax-gatherer was excluded from the synagogue;