A. Matthew the tax-collector - v. 9
A Jew who was a tax-collector! How low can you go? Tax-collectors were Jews who had sold out to the Roman government to collect taxes from their brethren. Now this was probably the excise taxes, tariffs, commerce taxes, etc… These men were independent contractors and collected the taxes that Rome demanded and for the privilege of doing so, they could then overcharge people to be able to recoup their costs and gain a great profit for themselves. They were hated by the Jews and considered traitors to Israel. In this tax-collector’s case, he had set up a tax booth in a commerce heavy area, where trade goods came through Capernaum and passed either north or south to continue the process of trading in other lands. It was true too, that this little town had good commerce in the fish trade as they were located on the Sea of Galilee business was very good.
The people who were in this profession were governed by greed, abuse and lived a life of corruption because they took advantage of the poor and the rich and anyone that came their way. They could care less of what people thought of them, or at least it looked that way from the outside. They were not only hated because of how they collected the taxes but because of how they cooperated with the hated Romans. Jews working on behalf of and for the Romans, tore out the heart of a real Jew.
Matthew the tax-collector was from Capernaum and more than likely knew the residence of that town quite well or at least they knew who he was and more than not, hated him greatly. So, you can imagine when Jesus approached Matthew and stopped as if to talk with him, his disciples, particularly the ones from the area of Galilee, cringed at the prospect of even being around this sinner.
Matthew seeing Jesus coming, probably had a great knot in the pit of his stomach because he knew who this holy man was. You can’t have lived or worked in that area and not have heard of Jesus or not know of what He was teaching and talking about. Can you just hear Matthew saying under his breath, “What does Jesus want with me?”