Thought For The Day 04/10/13


The Tax Collector




What’s the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin!

Mark Twain


Dan and I have finished the thing nearly every person here in the United States dreads perhaps more than anything else! Our yearly tithe to Uncle Sam. Ok, perhaps it’s more than a tithe, but whatever you choose to call it, it is a time that seems to cause not just an increase in marital discord but also physical symptoms…as the migraine I am getting over currently, can attest! But as Ben Franklin once said, “…but in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” Interestingly, tax collectors have been viewed with the same disdain throughout history. And since taxes predated even the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I thought I’d take a moment to think about one man who was, perhaps, one of the most hated of people during Christ’s time because of his occupation, and yet became one of Christ’s most devout disciples…..Matthew.


Did you know that the original New Testament gospel, known today as the gospel of Mark, talks about a man named Levi, son of Alphaeus, who was known as the tax collector? But in subsequent verses, the name we have come to recognize, Matthew, is used. The fact of one man having two names was a frequent occurrence among the Jews since many bore both a name of Hebrew origin as well as one with Greek roots, hence Levi was the original name of the man who was subsequently called Matthew; the Maththaios legomenos, which we read in Matthew 9:9 NLT, “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.”


Matthew collected taxes from the Hebrew people for King Herod,  the tetrarch of Galilee. It is thought his office for this was in Capernaum. His occupation was a double-edged sword since he was considered to be an outcast among his people but at the same time, he was a literate and learned man who probably was fluent in multiple languages spoken by the population at large. It is likely he spoke both Greek and Aramaic. It was after meeting Jesus and being moved to join him that Matthew invited Christ home to dinner. Jesus accepted which prompted the Pharisees to question why Jesus would fraternize with the likes of this man. Jesus response to them is another oft quoted scripture, On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (from Mark 2:17 NIV). Hence the phrase we know today, first quoted by LL Nash, A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.


It is believed that the Gospel of Matthew was the first to be written down by one of Christ’s followers, and it is generally held that many of his writings are contained in the Apocryphal Gospels since it is thought these texts were written in Greek as opposed to Aramaic. It is generally held by both the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches that Matthew died as a martyr, in the year 90 AD under the reign of Domitian probably in Ethiopia. The thought is that he likely died by a sword or spear although the exact manner is not revealed. However, this is dismissed by Heracleon the Gnostic  who lived around 175 AD, and who writes that Matthew died peacefully of old age and it is this version that has become a part of Greek legend.


Regardless of the bias that we continue to associate even today with a man like Matthew, it took great courage for him, indeed for all of the disciples for that matter, but for Matthew especially, to give up the life that he had as a man of means and risk losing everything, especially his life, to follow the Son of God and to continue to on sharing the word after bearing witness to the horrors of the crucifixion. Then again, he was one who bore witness to the miracles performed by the Son of God, as well! Still, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29b NIV), like you and me!


Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Matthew 9:13 NLT


Copyright © 2011-2013 “MandysPath” Ministry


About Mandy Bruscella

Mandy's Story: As a Registered Professional Nurse with Certification in a number of specialties including home care, I was afforded the opportunity of working closely with various Social Service Agencies in NY and NJ. ~ A lifelong Christian, I was ordained as a Presbyterian deacon in 1993 and, after relocating to SC in 2000, elected to become ordained as a non-denominational minister. ~ I established "MandysPath" Ministry in 2011. "MandysPath" Ministry is a member of Pacific Life Church, El Sobrante, CA, network of ministries. ~ I direct an outreach ministry in an alternative setting, providing spiritual care to a congregation of more than 500 people from around the world via the Internet. ~ As part of this outreach, I write a daily faith based blog. In March, 2012 I was asked to become a board member of Heroes For Children which is a non-profit foundation, established to assists the Guardian ad Litem program of Horry County, SC. Guardians ad Litem are a group of court appointed advocates who represent the best interests of children in Family Court proceedings involving allegations of abuse or neglect. Working closely with these men and women who make a difference in the lives of children, I completed training and have been sworn in to serve as a Guardian ad Litem for the state of South Carolina . ~ I have been married since 1975 to a wonderful man, Daniel. I have a son Daniel and his wife Melissa who live in NYC. My daughter Sabrina and my grandson Landon live here in SC. ~ My father Harold continues to share his wisdom with me and is responsible for many of the ideas I write about!

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