Jesus and the Tax Collector : Matthew 9

Jesus and the Tax Collector : Matthew 9

Father Darren Collins preaches on the healing power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Nobody enjoys paying taxes. I remember many years ago when I was a plumber, and we would estimate how much we thought our tax bill would come in at.

For some reason, I always underestimated it, I journeyed with the hope that the taxman would look joyfully at me and say this year, we will knock a few thousand off for you. But it always seemed that they put a little bit extra on, but they’re the taxman, and you do as you are told, you pay the bill.

I suppose that has been the case for taxes over millennia, where people have always hated paying what has been demanded of them from the government and in Jesus’ time, it was no different.

Today if you want to be a tax collector, you get interviewed and are paid a salary. In Jesus’ time, it was different and more of a franchise. The Roman authority or Herod of Agrippa would decide what they wanted from you. Then they would put it out for bidding, saying this is what we are looking for. Who would like to bid that they could give us this money by collecting it from the locals, and if you went a little bit over, you got the job.

That person’s job was to make sure they got the money they needed from the locals, whether it was the ones local in the community, traders coming through, or farmers, all had to pay their bit.

Some were income tax, some like a tithe of the land, 10% from the fields, and 20% if it was fruit. If you were a male over 14, you had to pay tax; girls of 12/13 also paid tax. Generally, the tax collectors used every way they could to get as much money out of the people as they could.

You can imagine the people who did that were not thought of highly. If you were Jewish and a tax collector, you were banned from the synagogue; you were not allowed in there to worship because tax collectors were put in the same bracket as murderers and robbers. People who were usurping the nation and trying to undermine the faith.

Teaching, Preaching and Healing

Well, you can imagine when Jesus was moving from village to village and up in Galilee, rumours went around that he was teaching and preaching. He was healing, bringing people back from the dead, and people wanted to go and see him.

You can imagine Matthew being a little bit apprehensive because he was a Rabbi doing the rounds and would soon know he was a tax collector and probably ignore him.

Jesus Heals Matthew, the Tax Collector, and Changed his life

Matthew came face to face with Jesus, but Jesus did not use him as an example to chastise and say this person is going to hell. He said follow me. Come with me.

It must have been a complete shock for Matthew, believing that he was on the outside and suddenly being told you are anything but, come follow me, there is a place for you within God’s kingdom.

Sometimes that message, when people realise there is a place for them in God’s kingdom, is life-changing. Matthews’s life was never the same again. He left his tax booth and moved on; he moved on in the service of God.

William Barclay, the great theologian, said Matthew only took one thing from his tax booth, and that was a pen. He took it to write down the stories of Jesus’ ministry and would eventually write his gospel.

Matthew would eventually go forward and proclaim the gospel in word and deed. He was not shy about his past and told others that was me, but now I am different.

Jesus can Heal and Change our Lives too – in this World and the Next

Each one of us will have deeds in our past that we are not too proud of, things that we may have done and said that we think about and carry with us most days. But we must remember what Jesus did. He came to heal.

In our gospel reading, Matthew was healed, made whole again, and became a disciple of Christ. The lady who was haemorrhaging became whole again because she was brave enough to come up and touch the side of Jesus’ garment and was healed.

The father who wanted help because his daughter had died; was healed along with his daughter because they came to believe that Jesus was who he said he was, the son of God, the Messiah.

Each one of us is called to follow Christ and see him as our lord and Saviour, the healer who makes us whole. Who forgives our past, puts us back on our feet and says go try again and be better.

Each day we come before our lord in prayer, and I always start by asking God to be with me in the day, particularly in the moments when I do or say something I shouldn’t. Because I go into the day with God to be my guide and my helper. To be my Saviour and my lord.

A daily journey with God is better than any journey we can go on because we go with him beside us, before us and inside us to heal, nurture and send on our way.

I believe that a journey with Christ is a journey that gives us wholeness, gives us hope and gives us a future in this world and the next.

A relationship on earth spent with God is a relationship that comes to perfection in God’s heavenly kingdom.

Perhaps during this coming week, you can take time to reflect a little bit on your past, on something that may be bothering you and just give it to God, ask him to take it, and then journey on.

God calls us on a lifelong journey with him, and he comes with us to heal and love us. As we go forward, let us be people of the gospel willing to be forgiven and give forgiveness.

To let others know of God’s love for them, for his hope for the future of all humankind and the hope that as we journey forward; in our community here, our country and our world, we may be healed through the love of Jesus, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

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