The Chief Publican
Wisdom's Corner
The Chief Publican

Have you ever heard anyone talking about taxes? You may have heard your parents talk about them. Most people think that they have to pay too much in taxes. But a Christian knows that the government has a right to ask it's people to pay taxes. A good government will use the tax money to pay for those things that government has a right to be involved in, like a military.

The Romans had a tax system during the time that Jesus lived. The Roman government had tax collectors. These tax collectors would hire other people to do their work for them. These individuals were known as publicans. Usually there was a chief publican who supervised all the other publicans.

The Roman government did not care what the publicans charged the people in taxes as long as the government got the money they were supposed to get. Many times the publicans would charge the people much more than what they were supposed to. They would give the proper amount to the government but keep the rest for themselves. The publicans became wealthy men with this dishonest practice. And the chief publican became very wealthy.

The Jews hated the publican. A publican was not allowed to give testimony in a Jewish court. A synagogue would not accept a gift from a publican. The publican was regarded the same as a murderer. Of course, the Roman rulers and wealthy elite considered the publicans as "the flower of knighthood, the ornament of the state, and the strength of the republic." Cicero even called them "the most upright and respected men."

In Luke 19:1-9 you can read about a chief publican, Zachaeus. He is a well known person in the Bible. Zachaeus decided to follow Jesus. He told Jesus that he would make all things right concerning the way he had cheated people of their money. Jesus accepted his repentance.

It does not matter how well we are respected by those of the world. What matters is whether or not we follow Jesus. Zachaeus was well respected by the Romans. But he was not living right. He was willing to trade the respect of the Romans for the respect of God.

It does not matter how evil someone has been. They still need to hear the gospel of Christ. They need to be given the chance to hear the Truth and a chance to repent. The Jews would never approach a publican and try to teach him, even if the publican showed some interest. But Jesus showed them that all men need God. Jesus was willing to meet with him and teach him.

Study God's word, the Bible. In it you will read what you need to know to live right. And you will learn what you need to know to teach others how to live right.

Keep studying, and if any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.

Mark McWhorter

Copyright 1999

Published by The Old Paths Bible School