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 was an outcast – banned from the synagogue, a hated tax collector. He had sold out to the Roman government that was taxing the Jews into poverty. His tax booth was located on a strategic trade route. As was typical in his profession, Matthew overtaxed travelers and traders and pocketed the money. He was a wealthy man from ill-gotten revenue. Then he met Jesus and his life was redeemed.
Writing around AD 50, Matthew’s target audience was the Jews. He wrote to show them that Jesus was the promised Messiah — the “Anointed One” (in Greek, “The Christ”). Much of his writing focused on how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies. He knew his readers would be very familiar with the Old Testament, so Matthew included some fifty direct quotations and seventy-five allusions to Old Testament passages.
Matthew had walked away from his Jewish faith to pursue personal gain, but after encountering Jesus finished strong by walking with Him. As one of the twelve disciples he knew Jesus up close and personal. Tradition says that Matthew was burned at the stake for his faith. He knew the power of great grace.
Father, thank You for providing men like Matthew to record the life of Jesus. Thank You for his willingness to die because of his faith in Christ. Help me be willing not only to die for You, but also to live each day in the power of Your great grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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