ESV - 9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.
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The short answer is, nobody knows but God and Matthew. Perhaps, if you're a believer, you can ask Matthew yourself one day. For that is the promise of God for all who believe; we will all someday live together for eternity with our Lord. Perhaps, as the VidAngel series, "The Chosen," depicts Matthew, he was just very good with numbers and socially awkward. Tax collectors were especially despised in occupied Israel of his day, but if his "uniqueness" left him with few friends anyway, perhaps he saw little to lose and much to gain by being one. Whatever his reason, what is clear is that Matthew ultimately did not find fulfillment or satisfaction in his job. Maybe at one time he had hoped it would, that money would make him as "happy" as he could hope for, only to be disappointed. Maybe Matthew had heard or even seen some of the miracles that Jesus was doing. Enough to know that Jesus was not just some ordinary man, but something more. Something that gave him hope that there IS more. I'm sure that what happened in Matthew's heart was very similar to what happens to all of us when we get that first glimpse of the glory of God, or who He is. At first confused, as it speaks against the lies in our lives. Perhaps a period of fear to believe in something that MUST be too good to be true. But ultimately, finally, there is hope. I can't really say for sure what drove Matthew to become a tax collector to begin with, but I strongly suspect that it was hope that made him abandon everything when Jesus gave him the call, "Follow me." I'm sure there's a very interesting story there. Perhaps one day we can listen to it, straight from Matthew.
Good question, Laura! I suspect it was because of greed as many tax collectors became rich by so doing. Also, he had to be good with numbers, with math, to keep track of people's payments and accounts. He is dramatically portrayed this way in The Chosen TV series which I love. He is one of my favorite characters there because it shows how emphatically he was changed! See it for yourself. You'll love it, Laura: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzyFOCZ2kJ0
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