The King's Son Pays No Taxes | Matthew 17:22-27

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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!

Prayer:

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.

Faith to Move MountainsDay | Matthew 17:14-21

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Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy
14 At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, 15“Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”
17 Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.”18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.
19 Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”
20“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."

Imagine this scene

Jesus has just come down from the mountain where He was enshrouded by the glory of God, also known as the transfiguration. He spoke to Moses and Elijah; and now, he comes back to see that the disciples that were left behind had no faith in the power of the God that they followed. He then makes a statement that many of us might consider "a little harsh", but if we look at the meaning of the statement and don't apply our own emotions to them, we can see Jesus' frustration is born out in truthful words.

"You faithless and corrupt people!"

Other versions of the bible use the words "faithless and perverse". The Jewish people had for so long lived without true faith in the God they claimed to serve and they had so "perverted" or "twisted" the truth about God that they were a whole generation that lived without true faith. This is Jesus pointing out to them the problem or reason that they are unable to heal the demon possessed boy.

"How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you?"

I believe that this is really Jesus making at statement of frustration and concern. In just a few verses after this one He states that He must go "into the hands of men and they shall kill him". He is worried about the lack of faith that he see's because there is so little time left for Him to teach them.

"Bring the boy here to Me."

Jesus displays complete and total faith. There is never a word of doubt that passes from him. His statement is one of complete confidence in His ability (through His Father in Heaven) to heal this boy. He doesn't say, "Bring the boy here to me, I think I can help him".

Faith that could move mountains

This boy had been possessed from childhood. It was a well known case in the region and undoubtedly many "exorcists" had attempted to remove the demon from the child only to suffer defeat. Common exorcism practices were varied. Some used stinky odoriferous herbs or weeds to "stink" the demon out of the afflicted person. Always the emphasis was put on the person doing the exorcism and not on any amount of faith in God to do the healing.

So here are the disciples; still weak in faith. And this man brings his infamous son to them to be healed. They immediately start to think of how many times others have tried to heal him and failed. They start to think of the size of the problem instead of the size of their God who can do all things. Their faith is in themselves and not in their God, where it belongs.

A weak faith is simply a faith that is centered on a weak subject; like self. If you center your faith on the source of all things possible; on the one who created all things. If you center your faith on God, who created the mountains, then even the smallest amount of faith (in God) can move mountains. True faith also functions within the bounds of God's will. It could never ask the source of faith, God, to do something that God would never do.

Notice that Jesus does not turn to a mountain in the area and demonstrate this level of faith by moving it. That would have definitely made his point! No, he was merely using the largest and smallest measurements to illustrate that it is not the size of the problem or the amount of faith that you have, it is the source of the faith that is important.

Prayer:

Dear Father in Heaven,

Please forgive me sins Lord. Come into my life today and change my heart. Lead me.

Thank you for this lesson today and for the understanding of who faith works through. Help me to have that faith in You.

I thank You for all that you provide Lord. I ask that You would make sure that I use what You have given me to glorify You. Please be with my family, friends, and the church. Keep them safe and protected from the enemy. Pour out the spirit on our church and help us to find lost souls for You.

I love you. Amen.

Get Up. Don't be Afraid | Matthew 17:1-13

The Transfiguration

1 Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
4 Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
7 Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”8 And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
9 As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
10 Then his disciples asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?”
11 Jesus replied, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, but he wasn’t recognized, and they chose to abuse him. And in the same way they will also make the Son of Man suffer.”13Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist.

Imagine this moment in time

Jesus takes Peter, James and John with him up a high mountain to be alone. The purpose of a high mountain was to remove them from the everyday concerns so that they could have separate time with Jesus and with the Father in prayer. This was common practice for Jesus but I think it may be the first time that He took disciples with Him.Consider the gift of the Sabbath day that God has given us. A time, separate from the world, to spend with Him. A veritable trip to the top of a mountain if we want it to be.

I wonder if Jesus even knew what was going to happen when he took them all up? I know that He was in complete unity with the Father so I would assume that the Father told Him to make the journey and to bring witnesses. Sometimes God does not reveal the reason that He asks us to do something because it can build our faith to walk "blindly" with Him. How much faith does a blind person have to have in the ones that are leading them? Much more than someone with sight. Too often we trust in our own senses and our own "understanding" and do not step out in faith to follow the Will of Our Creator. {Close your eyes and follow Him.}

Suddenly Jesus' countenance starts to change and He begins to shine as bright as the sun and His clothes became like light. I imagine this scene in my mind and I see that God is coming closer to Jesus and as He does Jesus' whole form begins to change. Notice that Jesus is not brought to his knees by the presence of God; another sign that He was without sin. The disciples who were present prostrated themselves face down on the ground when in the presence of God and were enveloped with a sense of fear and awe. They were sinful men in the presence of true Holiness and even with their association with Christ they could not have survived seeing God. They only made it through by seeing God through Jesus...something to ponder my reading friends.

Now Moses and Elijah appear and begin speaking to Jesus. We are not told what was said between them here but in the account in Luke 9:31 we learn that they are talking of His "exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem." Is it no wonder that they would talk about the moment (Christ's death) that they had both laid their faith in and which had supplied for their salvation.

Next God comes fully onto the scene in the form of a bright cloud overshadowing them and He speaks almost the same words that He used at Jesus' baptism. "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to Him." This is the point when the awe filled disciples (I can't imagine they felt anything but amazement and awe at this point) suddenly feel fear and quickly fall to the ground face down. This is what happens to sinful man in the presence of a Holy God. We lose sight of this sense of fear when we remove ourselves from the presence of God by,

  • Neglecting to read His Word
  • Sliding back into the ways of the world
  • No longer sharing Him
  • No longer praying

...but when God reveals himself to us, we gain an immediate sense of our own exceeding sinfulness and we can do nothing but drop!

We have a moment of the whole plan of salvation here. You see, Jesus is our salvation. When we accept his gift of dying on the cross for us his life (which

can

stand up to the presence of a Holy God) is put in our place and God see's Him; not us. (Praise Jesus!) This is what allows us to then "go boldly" to the throne of God (through prayer) and make our requests..because we are doing it while being covered by the character of Christ Jesus. It is ONLY through accepting the gift of grace from Jesus and asking Him to cover our sins that we can be saved; otherwise we must stand in the presence of God, during the final judgement, on our own merit. That thought, my reading friends, brings me to my knees!

Finally, we come to the moment when Jesus comes to the dirty, trembling, face-in-the-ground disciples...

{ I must take a moment here to make sure that you who are reading this do not make a common mistake. Fear of God does not mean that He is angry with us. He loved us so much that He gave us His Son to save us. Fear of God is that overwhelming sense that we get when in the presence of a Holy God. It is a truth that we cannot survive as sinful beings in that presence. It will kill us, permanently, if we do not have a "protective covering". It is as natural a law as gravity. }

..and he bids them to "Get up. Don't be afraid." Again, in this I see salvation through Christ. And, with that salvation, comes the gift of fearlessness. Not only can we go boldly to the throne of God but we can go out unto all the world preaching the everlasting gospel and sharing this good news with those who haven't yet heard it. This too is a gift; a gift that just keeps on giving because the more you share the more you just can't get enough of Jesus!

Prayer:

Dear Lord,

Thank you so much for Your gift of "fearlessness". Help us all to go out in Your strength and share this good news. Thank you for making a way for us to be in the presence of our Loving Father in Heaven. Thank you for defeating death and giving us life.

Lord, there are so many people that I want to bring up on prayer. Read my heart and know them all. I bring up to you especially the young boy who was pierced in the heart with a nail gun. Please Lord, save this young life. I bring up to you my friends Ken and Karen and ask that You would continue to work in their growth in You. I ask you to watch over and care for all of my family and friends. I ask that You will bless the event at the church today and help someone to see and understand Your love through us.

I ask You to cover my sins with Jesus sacrifice. I ask that You would come into my life...I give it to You to use. Thank You for Your promises and Your Love. Amen.