Saint Matthew, first century
Matthew 9:9 tells the story of how Saint Matthew first met Jesus. As Jesus was walking along, “he saw a man named Matthew” sitting at the tax booth; and “he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.” As a tax collector, Matthew worked for the Roman governor, the enemy of the Jewish people. Fellow Jews saw Matthew as a traitor, but Jesus called him to be among his closest friends.
Matthew spent three years with Jesus. He saw the miracles Jesus performed and witnessed his Resurrection and Ascension. The Gospel according to Matthew was written to convince Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah. His writings tell how God established a spiritual Kingdom for his Son, rather than the earthly kingdom the Jews expected. Many biblical scholars believe this Gospel was written between AD 70 and 80. Matthew preached in the area of Palestine for fifteen years. Most ancient writers believe that he preached to the Jews in Ethiopia to the south of the Caspian Sea (not the Ethiopia in Africa) and places in the East. Some believe that he died a martyr’s death.
Discuss: As a disciple, Matthew was one of Jesus’ closet friends. After Jesus died, Matthew dedicated his life to writing about Jesus. Name three things you want to tell others about Jesus.
Write About Jesus
Have the children choose a favorite Bible story from the Gospel of Matthew. Then have them write the story in their own words. Invite the children to share their stories with the group.