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Matthew was a tax collector. That meant Matthew’s job was collecting tax money for the government. (Tax is money that the government tells people they have to pay to help keep the government running.)
The Romans ruled the whole land at this time, but the people didn’t want the Romans ruling them. So they froooowwwwned when the Romans demanded tax money from them. And when people saw that Matthew worked for the Romans by collecting the tax money, they froooowwwwned at Matthew too. (There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with being a tax collector, as long as the tax collector didn’t take more money than the government required, but people still didn’t like them.)
Most people thought that being a tax collector was just as bad as being a sinner or a thief. Most people froooowwwwned when they saw Matthew walk through the market and ignored him when he said “hello.” They shut, shut, shut Matthew out of their lives.
One day Matthew was busy doing his job at his tax-collecting booth.
“Two coins, please,” said Matthew. A man froooowwwwned back at Matthew while he handed over the coins. Clink, clink.
“Next. Two coins, please,” said Matthew. Clink, clink. A lady froooowwwwned back at Matthew while she handed over her coins.
It seemed like everyone just wanted to frown at Matthew all the time.
“Next,” said Matthew as he looked up. Jesus was at Matthew’s booth. And Jesus wasn’t frowning. Jesus was looking at Matthew with a knowing smile that pierced right down to the deepest part of Matthew’s heart.
“Follow Me!” Jesus said to Matthew.
And Right then, Right there, Matthew quit his job. He just got up from his booth, left everything, and followed Jesus.
But, how was Matthew going to make money now? Tax collecting was his job, and he’d just quit. Having a job is how people make money to pay for a house and to buy food.
When Matthew left that tax-collecting booth, he probably didn’t know how he would make money anymore. But he didn’t wait around to figure it all out. Because when a door opens and Glory walks by, you gotta reach out and grab your chance. Grab it and work out the details later (because that may be the only chance you get)! Don’t assume you’ll get another chance some other day. When Jesus walks by and calls your name, grab your chance to be with Him — today.
Do you know what Matthew did next? He opened the door of his house and threw a big party that night, a big, expensive feast. Since most people didn’t want to be around a tax collector, Matthew’s friends were the other tax collectors and sinners and bad guys. But Matthew wanted all these people to have this same chance to meet Jesus too.
But some of the jealous religious teachers froooowwwwned when they saw Jesus eating with Matthew and the tax collectors, sinners and bad guys.
“Why does Jesus eat with these sinners?” they complained.
But Jesus answered them, “It’s not the healthy people who need a doctor, but the sick people. I didn’t come to help the people who think they are good enough, but I came to help the people who realize that they are sick with sin!”
Matthew knew he was a sinner who needed a Rescuer, and he kept on following Jesus. It wasn’t long after this that Jesus gave Matthew and 11 other followers a NEW job. Matthew’s new job would be spreading the Good News about Jesus and His Kingdom all over the world!
And this new Job didn’t make people froooowwwwn when they heard about it. It made the people who wanted help from Jesus just smile, smile, smile!
Later in his life, Matthew wanted as many people to hear this Good News as possible, so he wrote down many things about Jesus. What Matthew wrote down became part of the Bible. This part of the Bible is called, “The Good News, As Matthew Told It.”