This morning, my Bible reading plan took me to Matthew 17. I’m always amazed by the part of this chapter where Jesus pays the Temple tax.
I find it interesting that this story is only recorded in the Book of Matthew. Remember, Matthew had been a tax collector himself before Jesus called him into discipleship.
And so Matthew is interested in this lesson and relays the message to us:
24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 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 kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” (Matthew 17:24-27, ESV)
You see, Jesus (as Son of God), was exempt from paying this tax because His Father is the King. The Temple was God’s house– it seems silly for Jesus to pay a tax to His Father, doesn’t it?
But so as not to offend the Jews, Jesus did. And it was in a unique way that the Creator of everything (see John 1:1-3) supplied the money for this tax.
Jesus told Peter to go fishing. When the fish was caught, the very exact amount of money that was needed for payment (for both Christ and Peter) would be found in its mouth. We know that while Jesus walked this earth in flesh, he had no riches but instead relied on God His Father for everything. Catching a fish with tax money in its mouth reminds us perfectly that the Lord has the power to care for our needs. Every single one.
Where there seems no money, He can provide. Where there seems no way, He can make a way. Where the seems no hope, He is our hope!
I love these words from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible regarding this passage. Not only does this story remind us that God meets our needs, but it also reminds us of the omniscience, omnipotence, power and dominion of Christ. It proves that Jesus is who He said He is.
“This was a wonderful instance of the omniscience of Christ, who knew there was in such a fish, such a piece of money, as exactly answered the present exigence, and that that would come first to Peter’s hook; and of his omnipotence, if not in forming this piece of money immediately in the fish’s mouth, as is thought by some, yet in causing this fish to come to Peter’s hook first, and as soon as cast in; and of his power and dominion over all creatures, even over the fishes of the sea; and so proved himself to be what he suggested, the Son of the King of kings; and to be a greater person than the kings of the earth, to whom tribute was paid: and yet, at the same time, it declares his great poverty as man, that he had not a shekel to pay on such an occasion, without working a miracle; and his great condescension to do it, rather than give offence by non-payment…”
How is God reminding you to rely on Him today? How is He reminding you of His character and nature?