24On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?”
25“Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house.
But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?”
26“They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied.
“Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free!27However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”
This seems like a cute story about Jesus paying taxes with coins from a fish, but there is really a lot to learn here. First, we need to know that the temple tax was a tax instituted by God in Moses’ time to pay for the upkeep of the temple. It was a small fixed sum and everyone paid the same regardless of their wealth or income (Exod 30:13-16). When it was created by God, it was a purification sacrifice. Now when Jesus questions Peter about kings collecting taxes he is teaching us several things.
- We are citizens of God’s Kingdom if we are followers of Jesus. Obviously Jesus isn’t speaking only about himself because he pays Peter’s tax for him.
- We don’t need to pay for our purification anymore. Jesus paid the tax for Peter and ultimately paid the cost of our sins on the cross.
- We are free. That is Jesus word. We are free from the tax of sin.
- Sometimes, when it isn’t a big deal, we need to be willing to do things we aren’t necessarily required to do so that we don’t upset others. We need to try to get along.
- While Jesus provided the money for the tax, he made Peter go fishing for it. We need to work, but our ultimate provider is still the Lord.Lor
Lord, help me not to be a stubborn person. Help me to be submissive and get along, as long as it isn’t sinful. And thank-you Lord for providing for me and my family. Make me more charitable and loving than I have ever been. Help me to give not as a tax, but as a gift. Beginner’s Online Bible Study *obbs*