24 Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum. There the tax collectors came to Peter. They asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25 “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus spoke first. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “Who do the kings of the earth collect taxes and fees from? Do they collect from their own sons or from others?” 26 “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons don’t have to pay,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But we don’t want to make them angry. So go to the lake and throw out your fishing line. Take the first fish you catch. Open its mouth. There you will find the exact coin you need. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
I’m not sure whether Jesus owed tax to the temple collectors or if they were just hassling Peter. Peter answers the question simply, then goes into the house where Jesus is. Jesus knows what just took place and says to Peter that the king’s own people owe no tax, only the subjugated peoples do. The citizens are free.
Jesus established that He and his disciples do not need to pay temple tax because they belong to the King of the temple, but He didn’t want to make a fuss and offend the Jews.
Jesus is the master of the ‘win-win’ situation. He keeps out of trouble but maintains His integrity cleverly. In asking Peter to go and find the coin in the mouth of the fish, He provides the money for the temple tax, but it does not come from their own limited financial resources. The debt is paid by God’s provision.
It can be difficult to accept bills we accrue especially if we think they are unfair, or if they cause hardship to us. I think God expects us to honour our financial obligations. When we do He will provide for us, perhaps in surprising ways, from His limitless resources. We are children of the King of heaven and He has paid all our debts.
My God and King, remind me that my treasure is with you and that I need to ask you for the resources to live in this society with integrity. Please ensure that all of your children have enough money to live with dignity. And Father, help me to be generous. Amen.
Written by Dimity Milne