Matthews story from sinn.., p.1
Matthew's Story: From Sinner to Saint,
Part #4 of The Jesus Chronicles series by Tim LaHaye
Table of Contents
PART ONE - LEVI’S RESOLVE
PART TWO - LEVI’S CALL
PART THREE - LEVI’S ACCOUNT
THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
OTHER BOOKS IN THE JESUS CHRONICLES
John’s Story: The Last Eyewitness
Mark’s Story: The Gospel According to Peter
Luke’s Story: By Faith Alone
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Copyright © 2010 by LaHaye Publishing Group LLC and the Jerry B. Jenkins Trust
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Published simultaneously in Canada
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
LaHaye, Tim F.
Matthew’s story: from sinner to saint / Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.
p. cm.—(The Jesus chronicles ; bk. 4)
eISBN : 978-1-101-18532-2
1. Matthew, the Apostle, Saint—Fiction. 2. Bible. N.T.—History of Biblical events—Fiction.
I. Jenkins, Jerry B. II. Title.
This is a work of fiction based on characters and events depicted in the Bible.
While the authors have made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the authors assume any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Scripture is from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
who let their lights so shine
before men and women
that they see their good works
and glorify their Father in heaven
There my burdened soul
Thus says the LORD:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”
The Palace of Herod the Great, Jerusalem
The king toddled like a baby in the wee hours of the morning, gingerly favoring hips and knees worn from more than seven decades of use. Shuffling across vast marble floors, he drew his robe tight around his neck and settled heavily on the portico steps.
Herod’s chief aide maintained an appropriate distance.
“Ariel, come,” the king said, sighing. “Sit with me.”
Ariel hastened to the stairs, bowed, and sat two steps below the king.
“You can tell I am vexed,” Herod said. “Can you not?”
“Of course, Majesty. Allow me to send for some wine perhaps. Ale? Water?”
With a dismissive wave, Herod shook his head and looked away, gazing out over his expansive gardens, lit by the dancing flames of torches. “The stargazers,” he muttered. “What did you make of them?”
Ariel shrugged. “I made of them what you made of them, Sire.”
“And you know my assessment?”
“Of course. For all their finery and diplomacy and scholarship, they made a grave error. Asking the King of the Jews for news of the birth of the King of the Jews—verily!”
Herod stood and tottered down the steps, and Ariel immediately began to rise. “Stay put,” the king said. “I am going nowhere.” He placed a hand against a column and stared at the floor. “The Roman Senate themselves made me King of Judea! My subjects can call me half a Jew all they want—don’t look at me as if you are unaware. You are surprised that I know?”
“You should know better by now. I know all. Has it been too long since Marc Antony and Octavian themselves walked me from the meeting in Rome and allowed me to sacrifice to their gods?”
Ariel nodded. “I daresay many have no knowledge of it, except what they’ve heard from their elders. You were a young man.”
“Thirty. But it’s history, man! To be taught from birth! When Octavian defeated Antony and became Augustus, I confessed that I had been loyal to his foe. I hid nothing! I pledged myself to him thenceforth, and he himself told me Judea was too small for a man like me.”
“And everyone knows he added territories to your kingdom, Highness.”
“Then how is it that the so-called wise men did not seem to know?”
“They showed you great deference, sir.”
Herod sat again. “You said yourself, they asked me—me!—about the newborn King of the Jews!”
“And may I say, Highness, your response was priceless.”
“It was, wasn’t it?”
“Persuading them to bring you news of him so you yourself could worship him!”
Herod had to laugh, though he convulsed into a spasm of coughs. “Could they have been blinded by the splendor of my kingdom and thus unaware of my determination?”
“That is all I can surmise. Though your passion is not secret . . .”
Herod held up a hand. “Please, don’t speak of it. My brother-in-law, three of my sons, my mother-in-law . . .”
“Their demises at your hand merely confirm your resolve to preserve your power, Sire.”
“They must, sir.”
“I miss her.”
“After all this time? You’ve had nine others.”
Herod nodded miserably. “It is not guilt, Ariel. Just melancholy. I love her still.”
“But you could countenance no threat to your throne.”
Herod sat in silence, staring into the heavens. “And I am not about to start now.”
“Are you not tired, Majesty?”
“Of course. But how can I sleep? You know this child is the prophesied Messiah.”
“So the scribes say.”
Herod shifted his eyes to the arched ceiling. “The priests confirm it! The child the seers seek is to be the Christ.”
Ariel leaned back and stretched. “Born in Bethlehem.”
“So the prophets write,” Herod whispered.
“And when the men from the East bring you news of him?”
“I will invite him here, of course!”
Ariel laughed. “And worship him . . .”
“No doubt! I’ll worship him with a sword.”
Ariel eventually persuaded the elderly king to fill his belly with wine. “It always makes you drowsy.”
Herod slept fitfully nonetheless, and after a morning bath in one of his magnificent pools, he summoned his aide again. “What news of the magi?”
“Bethlehem is but a village. Surely they are conspicuous.”
“I’ll send scouts.”
“I want those foreigners here with news—if not with the infant himself—by nightfall. They have had more than enough time to find him and report back to me.”
Bet Guvrin, 20 miles southwest of Bethlehem
Levi loved being the older brother, but at nearly eight years old, he was not allowed to carry little Chavivi, who had just learned to walk. The toddler provided no end of delight to Levi, who followed him about, calling his name, and trying everything he could to amuse the boy. To hear a giggle or to see a flash of those few tiny teeth was all Levi was after. How he wished he could hold the baby the way his parents did.
“You are lithe and lanky,” his mother said. “And you will one day be tall and strong. But Chavivi is fragile, understand?”
Levi nodded, but that didn’t keep him from pleading his case to his father when he returned from his day’s work at the tannery just beyond the village market. Levi sat on his father’s lap smelling the pungent leather on the man and tracing his orange tinted hands with his own fingers.
“But I’m strong, Father, and I won’t drop him.”
“You know the rules,” Alphaeus said. “When your mother and I are present, you may hold the lad.”
“Of course. Bring him to me.”
Levi ran off to get his brother, his father calling after him, “Remember, don’t try to lift him until you get him in here!”
Chavivi sat on the ground near where his mother was checking the risen barley dough, preparing to bake it. “Come!” Levi called out, and the little one leapt to his feet with a smile and scampered away. “No! We’re not playing chase! Come see Father!”
But the boy was headed for the goat pen, where he held his nose and looked back at Levi. The older son overtook him and grabbed his hand, making him laugh. He pulled Chavivi to the side of the house, where his father was washing up.
“Cha-cha!” Alphaeus roared, quickly drying his hands and squatting, opening his arms. Chavivi ran to him and jumped, and his father swung him in the air. “Now let Levi hold you.”
Levi reached for the boy, but his father made him sit on the ground first. Yet when he was settled, Chavivi wriggled to stay with his father, laughing when he plopped him into Levi’s lap. Soon he seemed to have had enough of that and ran off again to find his mother.
“Keep him from the fire,” Alphaeus said, as Levi rose to follow. He would never allow his little brother to be hurt, though once he had neglected him for only a few seconds and was startled by his cries. The boy had tripped over donkey dung and landed atop the pile. Levi’s mother made him wash Chavivi, then she checked the baby over carefully, sniffing his whole body before dressing him afresh.
Now as the family lit the candelabrum and sat for dinner, Levi asked if they were still planning on a trip to Jerusalem the next day. Once each month his father picked up raw hides at a trading center near the Holy City. Twice a year he took the family along.
Alphaeus nodded. “Tomorrow is Wednesday, when the Damascus traders arrive with their goods. Mary, rumor has it they will have silk from the east.”
Levi’s mother smiled. “You know as well as I that I can only look. We can’t afford such . . .”
“I know,” Alphaeus said. “But you can dream. And perhaps they’ll have trinkets for Chavivi again.”
She smiled. “Trinkets I can afford.” She turned to the child and broke off a small piece of bread, tucking it into his mouth. “You want a toy, little one? Do you?”
Chavivi’s eyes widened and he smiled, the bread slipping from his mouth. Mary pressed it back in and drew her finger across his cheek, causing the baby to grin again, the bread to reappear, and the family to laugh. Levi couldn’t wait until the next morning. On their last trip, Chavivi slept on the long wagon ride into Jerusalem, but that had been half a year ago. He would be more alert now, and it would be fun to see his face when he saw the bustle of the city and especially the pageantry at the temple.
LEVI HAD LEARNED to read at a young age, and at five years old began the daily reading of the Torah, looking forward to the day he could join his older friends at the synagogue school to study the Oral Law, commentaries from sages on biblical passages. His parents sat with him, huddled over a lamp, helping him sound out all the words and then explaining them to him. It was as if he could feel himself becoming smarter every day.
He knew friends who dreaded the daily readings and did not look forward to turning ten and starting to really study at the synagogue. But that was not true with Levi. He took pride in his name and his future, especially in his parents’ expectations for him. Often they had talked about how he would not have to break his back farming or tanning or shaping pottery. He would be a priest, called out, separated for the service of the Lord God Almighty. “You will never have riches,” his mother would say, “but you will be richly blessed in the service of the one true God.”
Levi dreamed of someday taking his place in the Levite choir that sang at the daily sacrificial service at the holy temple in Jerusalem. On the few occasions when his parents had taken him there, he was fascinated by the signal for the choir to begin—the dropping of the rake used to clean the altar. Lyres, harps, cymbals, and trumpets accompanied the dozen or so singers, who had a different song for each day. Levi’s father explained that each song represented one day of the creation week.
The last time Levi had heard the choir had been on a Friday, when they commemorated the crowning completion of creation by singing a psalm:The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
the LORD is clothed,
He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their waves.
The LORD on high is mightier
than the noise of many waters,
than the mighty waves of the sea.
Your testimonies are very sure;
holiness adorns Your house,
O LORD, forever.
Levi had asked his father if the Lord was clothed with majesty the same as King Herod was, not realizing until he saw his father’s face cloud over that he had apparently made a grave mistake.
“You are young, son, and so can be forgiven for menti
“I’m sorry, Father.”
“The song refers not to God’s clothes but to His majesty. Today, the sixth day, was the day man was created, and of all God’s handiworks, only man is able to recognize God’s true greatness and become His subject.”
Levi felt bad because he had clearly displeased his father, though his question had been innocent. He had hoped to suggest that the family complete that visit to Jerusalem with a walk past Herod’s palace inside the city’s southern walls, but in light of his father’s reprimand, that was clearly out of the question, but still, although his parents despised the king, it had not stopped them from gazing at the palace before.
Tomorrow’s visit would be better. He would know not to compare Herod with God. Plus Levi had never been to the holy temple on a Wednesday. “What will the choir sing tomorrow, Father?”
Alphaeus glanced at his wife, his brow furrowed. “Hmm. The fourth day is Psalm Ninety-four, Mary, is it not?”
Levi’s mother nodded. “Son,” she said, “keep Chavivi occupied while I tidy up, then I want to hear your prayer, as you will not be doing your reading in the morning.”
Levi was amused by the baby. Chavivi always grew sleepy after eating, especially in the evening. Now he sat on the floor, staring. His eyelids drooped, leading to long, slow blinks. He nodded like a man who had imbibed too much wine and Levi laughed, rousing the boy, but he started to nod off again a few seconds later.
“He’s falling asleep, Mother!”
“Prepare his mat and put him down then, but be careful.”
Sometimes the baby fought being put to bed, but not tonight. He appeared to be trying to stay awake, staring wide-eyed at Levi and then at his mother as she bustled about. Finally he turned and shut his eyes. Levi draped a small blanket over him.
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