S (Scripture): Matthew 17:24 When Jesus and the disciples came to Capernaum, the people who collected the half-shekel temple tax came to Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
25 “Yes,” he said.
But when they came into the house, Jesus spoke to Peter first.“What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly kings collect taxes, from their children or from strangers?”
26 “From strangers,” he said.
Jesus said to him, “Then the children don’t have to pay. 27 But just so we don’t offend them, go to the lake, throw out a fishing line and hook, and take the first fish you catch. When you open its mouth, you will find a shekel coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”
O (Observation): The idea is confusing: a temple tax…but for the king. Some confusion remains over whether this was indeed a temple tax or a national tax.
In either case, we can extrapolate that Jesus’ belief over whether or not to pay the tax differs slightly from his action. He drills Peter about the taxes, and Peter answers rightly, they don’t need to pay the tax. And yet, for the sake of peace, Jesus pays the tax. But he does this in the most extraordinary way: the payment appears in the mouth of a fish that Peter catches.
The point is made: Jesus and the people of God need not pay the tax, but they will at this time…and God will provide for it.
A (Application): Sometimes we go along with things until the time is right. Sometimes we bite our tongues…vehemently disagreeing…and yet going through the motions…biding our time.
I hope you find the right time to take action for what concerns you. Our youth of this nation are about to take action regarding gun violence. Our women are marching towards justice. Our hopes find ways of becoming actions.
I’m listening to a podcast today by RadioLab, called “More Perfect.” This podcast discusses Supreme Court cases, telling the stories behind the cases, drawing you into the narratives surrounding the cases.
This episode – “American Pendulum II” (found here) – tells the story of the case regarding Dred Scott (a slave from the 1830’s) and The Tawney Family (who owned Dred Scott as a slave) coming together, 3 and 4 generations later! In this gathering of descendants is forgiveness and reconciliation. Powerful stuff.
They had to bide their time and like money showing up in the fish’s mouth, God provided this coming together of descendants that they may be reconciled to one another.
Where do you need forgiveness and reconciliation? How is God providing for you in the meantime?
P (Prayer): Lord, you being us hope in the midst of challenge and despair. Provide for us as you provided for Peter and Jesus in today’s Gospel text. Amen.