22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
26 “From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
Jesus talks to Peter and makes it clear that he does not need to pay the temple tax. The temple tax was taken from the people so that the temple complex could be maintained. It was essentially a religious tax and not administered by a ruling power. At first glance the reference to kings collecting tax seems obscure. Jesus’ argument is that ruling kings generally did not tax those within their own family. The family was usually the government that received the tax, not the one who payed it. By way of Illustration, Elizabeth Queen of England only started paying taxes on her personal income in 1992. Jesus is saying that as the Son of God he has the right to receive the taxes and he doesn’t have to pay them. However, so as to maintain the peace he agrees to pay the taxes.
The sending of Peter to find a fish with the coin in its mouth is masterful tactile teaching.
- What question was posed to Jesus’ disciples?
- How did Jesus explain that he didn’t have to pay the taxes?
- Why do you think Jesus paid the temple tax?
- What do you think we can learn from this passage today?
- What can teachers in particular learn?
1. Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?
2. As God’s Son, it’s his house.
3. The reason he gives is that they should not make offense. It seems that it is also to teach the disciples about who he was. He explains to them that he is God–so he would be exempt from their earthly, man-made tax. But then he also send Peter to find the tax money in the mouth of a fish. He doesn’t pull it out of his pocket.
4. More of who Jesus is. His divinity. His compassion. His desire to be known. His patience.
5. That miracles are a great teaching method. I need to work on that. 🙂 Seriously, Jesus seizes the teachable moment. Then he asks a question. The he sends Peter out to find the answer himself. He doesn’t just hand him the money. He sends Peter on an investigative journey that he will undoubtedly never forget.