THE ONE WHO PAYS THE BILL
Holy God, grant today that my words and actions may point others to Christ, the Light of the World.
Read MATTHEW 17:22-27
Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time
22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
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)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectMake a list of the ways in which you personally contribute to wider society (including different taxes). Are there other ways in which you might give?
One feature of the gospel narratives is the unexpected ways in which they switch between matters of ultimate destiny (verses 22,23) and apparently unimportant details of Jesus’ everyday life. The story and miracle in this passage have a certain intimate charm. It is not surprising that this issue of the temple tax is only mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel. He is the one bringing us the most Jewish perspective and also, of course, he was a tax collector by trade. Jesus – the one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills – seems fairly relaxed about this tax. Ever the teacher, he takes the opportunity to ask Peter what he thinks. Never the reflective type, Peter has already blurted out an answer to the tax collectors: ‘Yes, Jesus pays the tax!’ But he hasn’t yet, and there follows one of those gentle, ‘pastoral’ miracles which remind us that Jesus reigns over even the small change of his creation.
There is a profound lesson for us in this quaint tale. Perhaps there are rights we are entitled to claim, taxes we can legally avoid. That does not mean we should, especially if by asserting ourselves, we cause others to stumble. We have been set free from the world, but free to love and to serve.
Read verses 22 and 23 again, and then consider how much you care about the taxes you pay.
Lord, I need your wisdom daily as there are so many choices, so many decisions to be made. I want to honor you and keep from unnecessarily offending others, so please help me in this.
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