Matthew’s Taxing Time

By Trevor Fletcher


A humorous telling of the calling of Matthew as a disciple.


Matthew the Tax Collector
Narrator 1
Narrator 2
Phil the Pharisee


(Scenario: The story is mainly narrated, interspersed with live action.  Narrator 2 is new to the job and appears not to know the story at all.)
Narrator 1: Once upon a time there lived a man named Matthew.
Narrator 2: He collected taxes.
Matthew: (Shouts as if hailing a cab) TAXI!!
Narrator 1: No, he didn’t collect minicabs – he collected tax-es – he was a tax collector.  Birdbrain!  Anyway, moving swiftly on.  He was a tax collector and he worked for the IR.
Narrator 2: IR?
Narrator 1: Israeli Revenue – Nazareth branch.  It was a very responsible job.
Narrator 2: Yes, responsible for separating a lot of people from their money.
Matthew: One for Caesar, one for me, one for Caesar, one for me, one for Caesar, one for me… one for… (looks shiftily over his shoulder) me, one for me…
Narrator 1: Like most tax collectors at the time…
Narrator 2: Unlike our splendid Inland Revenue of today!
Narrator 1: …he operated an unofficial commission system in order to supplement his statutory financial emoluments.
Narrator 2: He what?
Narrator 1: He was on the make.
Narrator 2: No!
Narrator 1: ‘Fraid so.
Narrator 2: Not Matthew!
Narrator 1: Well, he would have been in a minority of one among tax collectors if he hadn’t been on the fiddle.
Matthew: (In weak protest) Here, that’s slander that is!
Narrator 2:  Shut up Matthew.
Narrator 1: We’re talking about you, not to you.  (To Narrator 1) Ignore him and get on with the story.   So Matthew made a pile.
Narrator 2: Two piles - one for him and one for Caesar.
Narrator 1: But it wasn’t a very popular job, tax collecting.
Narrator 2: Matthew seemed to quite like it.
Narrator 1: No, I mean not very popular with anyone else – first they were seen as traitors, working for the Romans…
Narrator 2: Oh, I get you.
Narrator 1: …and second they were thieves.  Watch.
(Enter Mordecai who approaches Matthew’s table.)
Matthew: Morning squire.  Nice day for it.
(Mordecai spits and says nothing.)
Matthew: Come to pay your taxes, eh – that’s the ticket.
(Mordecai spits and says nothing.)
Matthew: Now, just a few details.  Name?
Mordecai: (spits) Mordecai.
Matthew: Occupation?
Mordecai: (spits) Computer consultant.
Matthew: (writing, and speaking pointedly) Abacus salesman.  Earnings over the last 12 months?
Mordecai: (spits) 50 shekels.
Matthew: Right, the basic rate of tax is 50% - so that’ll be 35 shekels.  (Mordecai looks bewildered and suspicious and starts trying to work it out on his fingers.  Matthew hurries on.)  Then there’s your Employment Tax, Water Tax, Air Tax, Tin Tax, Lets-get-down-to-brass-tax and Sunny-Side-of-the-Street Tax.   Then there’s Import Duty, Export Duty, Night Duty and Only-doing-my-duty - that’s all another 40%.  Oh, and is that your wife over there?
Mordecai: (spits) Yes.
Matthew: (writes again) Ugly Wife Tax – that’s another 10%.  Altogether a total of 49 shekels tax due – and gives you a whole shekel to play with – don’t spend it all at once will you?  (Mordecai spits and exits leaving Matthew rubbing his hands.)
Narrator 1: See what I mean – not very popular at all.
Narrator 2: No, hardly the way to win friends and influence people!
Narrator 1: Then one day Jesus walked into Matthew’s life and turned it upside down.
Narrator 2: (Puzzled) What, took him to Australia?
Narrator 1: (Wearily, with a withering look at Narrator 2) Metaphorically speaking.  ‘Follow me’ he said.  And Matthew followed him.  Left his table and all the money and followed Jesus.
Narrator 2: What, just like that?
Narrator 1: Just like that.
Narrator 2: Immediately?
Narrator 1: Immediately.
Narrator 2: Unexpected tax rebates all round!
Narrator 1: To celebrate his new life, Matthew threw a party.
Narrator 2: How far did he throw it?
Narrator 1: (Again wearily, patience being tested) Matthew had a party.
Narrator 2: And he invited…?
Narrator 1: All his old friends, the dregs and outcasts of society; other tax collectors, innkeepers, beggars, thieves, estate agents, youth pastors…
Narrator 2: Not youth pastors!  He did move in low circles!
Narrator 1: Of course, Jesus was there too, with his disciples.  The Pharisees didn’t like it.
Narrator 2: Pharisees?
Narrator 1: Religious bigwigs – temple rulers and the like - all the (makes speech mark sign with his fingers) ‘holy’ people.
(Enter Pharisee and approaches Matthew)
Pharisee: It’s a disgwace.
Matthew: What is?
Pharisee: Your new fwiend – mixing with this wabble.
Matthew: Wabble?
Pharisee: Wiff-waff, dwegs, persons of ill-wepute.
Matthew: (Understanding) Ah, wabble!
Narrator 1: And so it went on.
Narrator 2: Bet Jesus was embarrassed.
Narrator 1: Embarrassed?  Are you kidding?  He overheard what they were saying and told them.
Narrator 2: Told them what?
Narrator 1: Just told them.  You know, told them.  He said that only those who are ill need a doctor, not healthy people.
Narrator 2: Oh, so he was a doctor then?
Narrator 1: You know it might just help you to advance in your chosen career as a Narrator if you just learned the bare bones of the story before you started!  No, he wasn’t a doctor, he was just saying that he had come to help those who knew they had need; those who thought they were perfect already were never likely to follow him.
Narrator 2: So what happened next?
Narrator 1: That was it really.  Matthew became one of Jesus’ leading disciples and, well there’s a lot more to tell but that’ll have to wait for another day.  I’ve got to go, I’m playing Third Witch’s Broomstick at the Old Vic.  Come on.
Narrator 2: (As they exit together) You know, I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this narrating business now; I’ll soon be as good as you I reckon.
Narrator 1: (With dry sarcasm) Yes, another 150 years should do it.
Copyright Trevor Fletcher, 2003, all rights reserved.
This script may be used without royalty payment, provided no charge is made for entrance to the performance. In return, the author would like to be told of any performance. He may be contacted at: