“The men who were tax collectors had no fellowship with other countrymen except fellow tax collectors. They were regarded as puppets to the Roman government, and traitors and heathens to the ordinary Jews. They were viewed as unclean and vile, and the average Jew, especially the religious ones, would not even sit at a meal with them, as sharing a meal was viewed as acceptance into fellowship.
Matthew knew what it felt like to have his own countrymen regard him as the chiefest of sinners. He understood the condemning stares and the rejection from the religious men of his day. And yet, Jesus chose Matthew as a member of his inner circle of followers. This is the same tax collector the Holy Spirit used to record one of the four gospels.
This explains why Matthew gives us a special insight into the power of the gospel to reach all men—the down-and-outers and the up-and-outers. The thread of grace that offers redemption to all people is ever-present in Matthew’s gospel. It is like a great curtain on the stage behind the actors, always blending into every scene.
Matthew was a Jew, but he was far away from his people, far away from the Temple worship, and far away from God. In short, he was far away from home. Jesus came to bring the message of the gospel to others just like Matthew, people like you and me.”*
*Excerpt from my soon published Bible Study “Lessons from a Tax Collector”©