The Tax Collectors and Jesus
The attitude of Jesus toward the tax
collectors was in stark contrast to that of the Rabbis. He had come to seek and
save the lost. The Pharisees were separatists, and did not lower themselves to
have anything to do with a tax collector, who was to them no better than a
Gentile. But Jesus came not to condemn anyone, but to save every sinner and
offer a better life. He never taught that there was anything inherently wrong
with paying tribute to the Roman Government or collecting the tax. He was
opposed to extortioners, but would fling open the door of repentance and
salvation to them. He rejected none, not even the worst.
Jesus made himself a friend of men, even of the tax collectors and the worst of sinners. He set a new precedent among the Jews by accepting and associating with the tax collectors. He ate with them (Mark 2:16), He offered salvation to them (Luke 19:9), and He even chose a tax collector (Matthew) as one of His twelve disciples (Matt 9:9).
Luke 18:9-14 "Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."