MASTER OF STRATEGY
God, “open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law” (Psa. 119:18).
Read Matthew 17:24–27
The Temple Tax
24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
26 “From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectHave you ever asked God for something unusual?
This has to be the quirkiest story in the entire New Testament! Peter and Jesus are challenged over whether they have paid their Temple tax, a tax Jesus disagreed with (26). For regular people, there would be two options here: pay it against your conscience to keep the peace or take a stand and face the consequences. But as this is Jesus, there’s a third option—get a fish to pay for you!
Jesus had no problem causing a stir. While he doesn’t want to “cause offence” in this instance (27), on plenty of other occasions he is not at all afraid to provoke a strong negative reaction. So what is going on here? Well, what makes the most sense to me is that Jesus is being strategic. He could fight a minor official in Galilee, but far better to keep his powder dry for Passover week in the capital, where his life’s work would culminate.
Matthew’s account of this incident doesn’t tell us whether Peter ever caught the coin-carrying fish, but we have to believe Jesus could have made it happen. And his suggestion of this as a solution tells us he is a master strategist and also pretty funny!
There are many things in this world that run counter to God’s kingdom. In what areas does this pose challenges for you? Have you checked what the Scriptures say about these issues?
Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and discernment.