Tuesday, February 15, 2022
24 When they arrived at Capernaum, the taxmen came to Peter and asked, “Does your teacher pay taxes?”
25 Peter said, “Of course.”
But as soon as they were in the house, Jesus confronted him. “Simon, what do you think? When a king levies taxes, who pays—his children or his subjects?”
26-27 He answered, “His subjects.”
Jesus said, “Then the children get off free, right? But so we don’t upset them needlessly, go down to the lake, cast a hook, and pull in the first fish that bites. Open its mouth and you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to the tax men. It will be enough for both of us.”
-Matthew 17:24-27 The Message
The Temple Tax
Verse 24: Now when they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?”
Verse 24 study: The Jewish males had to pay a temple tax to help support the temple’s upkeeping.
Exodus 30:11-16: 11 The Lord also spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to count them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you count them, so that there will be no plague among them when you count them. 13 This is what everyone who is counted shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the Lord. 14 Everyone who is counted, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the Lord. 15 The rich shall not pay more, and the poor shall not pay less, than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the Lord to make atonement for yourselves. 16 And you shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and give it for the service of the tent of meeting, so that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before the Lord, to make atonement for yourselves.”
This tax is called the two-drachma tax. Drachma means a day’s wage for a laborer. Tax collectors set up booths to collect these taxes. Only Matthew recorded this incident because he was a tax collector himself.
Verse 25: He *said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?”
Verse 26: When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.
Verse 27: However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”
Verses 24-27 studies: Peter answered a question without knowing the answer, putting the disciples and Jesus in an awkward situation. Jesus used the situation to remind us of his kingly role. Jesus as king pay no taxes, and collect none from his family, Jesus, the king, owed none. Jesus did supply the tax payment for both himself and Peter rather than offend those who didn’t understand his kingship. Even though Jesus supplied the tax money, Peter had to get it. What we all have comes from God’s supply, but he may want us to be active in the process.
As God’s people, we are foreigners on earth because our loyalty is always to our real king, Jesus. Still, we have to cooperate with the authorities and be responsible citizens. An ambassador to another country keeps the local laws in order to represent well the one who sent him. We are Christ’s ambassadors.
2 Corinthians 5:20: Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Are you being a good foreign ambassador for him in this world?