The Tax Collector’s Point of View

If you have not watched The Chosen yet, I would strongly urge you to do so. The creators of the Gospel-based series have done a wonderful job of putting meat on the bones of the biblical account while keeping the facts accurate. Although there is obvious room for debate on interpretation, I found myself thinking about the characters as real people… because they were real people!

Dallas Jenkins’ characterizing of Matthew, the tax collector was a bit disturbing at first, but it is all very possible. He pictured him as very rich which he was, very brilliant and methodical, which he also would have been to hold such a position, and despised by his people which we also know was true. All these distinctions about Matthew’s life are played out beautifully in the film along with making him overly germ-conscious, carrying a napkin when he leaves his home and covering his nose with it.  Were the streets that smelly and germ-infested? Probably.  Matthew also seems effeminate which may be true or not. However, the point I want to make is that after watching the film I decided to read Matthew’s account of the Gospel again, and I saw it anew through the lens of a hated, rejected brilliant tax collector’s eyes. It was fascinating!

When he speaks of rejection, it means so much more because he was rejected. His account of the visiting Magi seems to shout of his awe of the coming Messiah, wanting to add credence to his Lord’s coming. His book was written to the Jews and includes sixty references to Jewish prophecies and forty quotations from the Old Testament as though wanting to make them see and understand that he was truly of Jewish descent and embraced is heritage even though he had chosen a disgraceful occupation.

Interesting that

·       Matthew is the only Gospel writer who includes the miracle of the tribute money (17:24-27) (If you’d like, you can read that account from the fish’s point of view in my children’s book God’s Fishy Bank!)

He is the only one who records the parables of

  • The tares
  • The hidden treasures
  • The goodly pearl
  • The drawn net
  • The unmerciful servant
  • The laborers in the vineyard
  • The marriage of the king’s son
  • The ten virgins
  • The talents
  • The sheep and the goats.

Matthew presents Jesus as the King, while Mark presents Him as a Servant, Luke as the Son of Man, and John as the Son of God.

A tax collector’s point of view. By the time Jesus calls Matthew (in the film), their eyes have met several times before. You can see the compassion in the Lord’s eyes and the yearning in Matthew’s. When the call comes, Jenkins scripts Jesus and his disciples as passing by Matthew’s booth, and then Jesus stops and looks back at Matthew. He simply says, “Follow me,” and without hesitation, Matthew closes up shop, hands his key over to the Roman soldier who guards him, and follows the Master. (Peter’s reaction, as well as the other disciples, is also fascinating and amazingly human.  You’ll just have to watch it!)

Only Matthew records Pilate’s wife’s dream, the suicide of Judas, the watch of the sepulcher, and the earthquake. Perhaps he understood the minds of the Roman citizens more than the others because he worked closely with them.  Perhaps he understood Judas a little better because of his love of money. Did he understand better the wicked hearts of his people’s leaders better because of feeling the sting of their rejection? And did the earthquake and the graves grip his logical mind and fill him with awe at the power of God?

We don’t really know, but I’m so glad that God included the hated tax collector in His choice of authors! We all have a message to give. As believers, we get to tell the greatest story about the greatest Man who ever lived!

Here we are, two weeks away from the most important day on the Christian year and we cannot gather to celebrate.  It breaks my heart! BUT I am determined to keep Easter alive in my heart.  I have a feeling that this may be the best, most meaningful Easter we’ve ever known!

What is your story? Has Jesus made a difference in your life? I’d love to hear about it! Be the first, or second, or third to leave a comment and be an encouragement in this crazy lockdown seclusion!  Someone may just need to hear YOUR story! 🙂

As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.

Matthew 9:9

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