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MATTHEW 9: 9
Jesus Christ often kept bad company for a good reason. When He
encountered Levi Matthew, the tax collector, He was in bad
company. Jewish rabbis considered them unclean for three
* Ceremonially they were unclean because their job constantly
brought them into contact with Gentiles.
* Politically they were unclean because they were employees of the
occupying Roman government.
* Morally they were unclean because they were dishonest
extortioners who exploited the people for personal gain.
Matthew, like most of the others who were Christ's apostles, was a
most unlikely candidate for apostleship. He was a bad dude.
Understandably critics asked others, "Why does your Master eat
with tax collectors and sinners?
Jesus overheard the question and answered Himself. "When Jesus
heard that, He said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a
physician, but those who are sick'" (Matthew 9:12).
The Great Physician had found a chronically sick sinner.
Matthew was known as Levi. Jesus evidently gave him the name
Matthew. It means "gift of God."
Matthew was the brother of James the Lesser, cousin of James
and John, as well as cousin of Jesus Christ.
To the public he was the man everyone loved to hate. He was
looked upon about like a drug dealer who is a child abuser would
be looked upon today. The term "scum bag" could have been
coined for him.
Romans sold the right to be tax collectors. The tax collector
collected the tax prescribed by the Romans plus all else they
thought they could get out of the people. There were two basic
types of taxes: statutory and customs.
Statutory taxes were one tenth of the grain, one fifth of the wine,
one percent of annual income, and a poll tax equal to one day's
They often collected custom taxes, tolls, and tariffs as high as 12%
of the worth of the goods. They were legal extortioners. People
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