Summary: Character study Matthew (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

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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!


Taxman jokes.

• 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:


• 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!”


• 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.


• 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;

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