The King's Son Pays No Taxes
22 After they gathered again in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. 23 He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
24 On 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! 27 However, 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.”
Jesus once again clearly informs the disciples that he is about to be turned over to his enemies and killed, but in the third day resurrected. A message of sorrow and hope at the same time. The disciples react with sorrow only. They are starting to fear the loss of their Messiah, but still have such little faith that they don't focus on the glory of his soon resurrection.
Afterward they arrive in Capernaum and are addressed by the temple tax collector. He asks them for tribute. This was a lawful tax by the laws of Moses (Exodus 30:11-16) and Peter's quick response was one of "lawfulness" or "legalism", in my opinion, because Jesus next takes the time to teach him a lesson. Peter was intent upon doing right in the eyes of men, and Jesus wants him to think about who he is with and how that changes many things that are held to be "law". He wants him to see how it should change his perspective.
To paraphrase, Jesus asks Peter if a King charges taxes to his heirs (maybe children) or to those he rules over? Peter gives the correct answer to the question which is those that he rules over, the children or heirs, are exempt from any taxes. Jesus wants Peter to see (remember) that he is with the Son of God and this tax is only legal because it was instituted by God. He, as the Son of God, is exempt from this tax. Again, Peter was seeing things from the outward and not applying spiritual truth to what happens around him.
How does living a spiritual life change my outlook on the world around me?
We are carnally driven humans, also known as sinners. This interaction between Peter and Jesus is yet another example of Jesus trying to get the disciples to live their lives from the spiritual perspective and not the carnal.
Was there anything wrong with Peter's understanding of the temple tax, or his desire to pay it? No, it was a law implemented by God to help with the process of doing a census and to cover the temple expenses. But Peter was not taking into account the One that he was with...he was still living a carnally driven life.
How might this interaction have gone if Peter had been living a spiritual life when he was asked whether or not his rabbi was going to pay the tax? Hypothetically he might have given the opposite answer; no. Then the person questioning him may have asked why the answer was no and he would have had on opportunity to share that Jesus was the Son of God; therefore was not subject to the tax. What a conversation that might have sparked. What a different picture this might have been!
I praise God that this brief account is here to remind me that I need to be living a life that shows my belief in Jesus as my Savior. Faith should change how I interact with and see the world. As my faith strengthens I will start to see the world in a new light; as God would want me to see it. Ask yourself this question reading friend. If you truly lived in faith and belief in Jesus Christ, how would your life look?
Now consider your answer. Did you answer according to the Word of God or according to the world? I think that the devil wants us to believe that a "true" believer of Christ will somehow look fanatical, strange, or otherworldly. We are given the impression that the minute we give our lives fully to Christ we will quickly be standing on a street corner, with a dirty cardboard sign that says "REPENT", preaching to the masses. I venture to say that this thought is only there to discourage us from giving our lives fully to Christ. It scares us a little and keeps us from stepping out in faith. Jesus has clearly stated in His word that he will never ask of us something that we cannot do. He has also said that he will provide the means to do anything that he asks from us.
Seek to live a spiritual life my friends. God wants you to live a life that "knows" victory is in Jesus. Stop and consider if you may be thinking of something from a carnal nature or spiritual nature. Then ask Jesus to help you see it from the spiritual nature...you may be surprised at the answer you get!
Lord in Heaven,
You have won the battle. We fight against a defeated foe. Help me to walk in Your light and live a life of faith, seeing things through spiritual eyes. I ask that You would remove the fog of this world so that I can see things as You want me to see them. Thank you for this promise. Thank You for the answer You will give.
Thank you Lord for supplying my needs today. Please watch over and protect my children. Please watch over and protect the small study groups that have started. Help us to grow in You without the distractions and discouragements that the enemy seeks to put in our paths.
Thank you for opening up another understanding to me today. Thank you for being here with me. Be with my wife today and help her to have a good day and feel your loving arms around her. Amen.