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.
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.
(Matthew 17:22-26 NIV)
I love this little-known story. It really speaks much about the heart of the Lord. It speaks about how much Jesus loved his disciples. It must be understood, Jesus' public ministry was coming to an end. His popularity was dwindling. In those days, if you are popular, then you don’t really have to pay tax. The fact that the collectors came to Peter and ask for tax shows this. Notice they didn’t ask Jesus. They ask Peter.
Peter as many of us know, is a rash guy. He was worried about the status of his Master. So he began to argue on the part of his Master. Jesus saw this outside the house. When Peter came in, Jesus pulled him aside and told him, that children are exempted from tax payable to kings.
Jesus was saying that the temple belongs to his Father and as such, he is exempted from paying tax. So Peter’s answer was wrong. This is meaningful. Look at how Jesus corrected Peter; so much of gentleness. Here’s the interesting part. Jesus used this word 'children.' Not child. Hold that thought.
Jesus then told Peter to do the craziest of things. He asked him to catch a fish and inside the fish, he will find a 4 drachma coin. It was enough to pay for Jesus and him. I want us to see that Jesus could have insisted on his right of not paying taxes. After all, the temple belonged to his father. However, note that Jesus was not interested in having an argument or having Peter getting involved into further argument.
You may wonder why…
Matthew had just told us “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.”
He was about to die. He wanted to spend more time with Peter. When a person is near death, he focuses on things, which are most important. The most important thing to Peter was his Master’s popularity. Jesus’ focus was Peter. He wanted to spend his final moments with Peter; his closest and most cherish friend. Credibility was more important to Peter.
I want us to realize something. Before Jesus died, God had one begotten son (John 3:16). But after he died, Jesus became the firstborn among his brethren (Romans 8:29). I want you to see something here. The tax was paid for Peter too. He through this incident had his tax also paid for him. Peter had then too become a child of the king.
I love this story because while we have all sorts of agendas, Jesus has only one. You and only you. He really loves you.
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