Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 22 January 19:
Matthew 17:26 — “Then the sons are free.”
In Capernaum, the tax collectors ask Peter if Jesus planned on paying the temple tax. They were referring to the tax mentioned in Exodus 30:11-16 – “Each shall give a ransom for his life to the Lord…. Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary half a shekel as an offering to the Lord. Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the Lord’s offering. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when you give the Lord’s offering to make atonement for your lives. You shall take the atonement money from the people of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to remembrance before the Lord, so as to make atonement for your lives.” Historians say that pious men paid this tax annually.
Jesus responds to the quarry with a question to Peter, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.” Jesus declares that He and his disciples are exempt from the temple taxes because they (we) are sons of God, and “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.” (Matthew 12:6) A king doesn’t pay his own taxes, and the king covers the expenses of his children who are heirs of the kingdom. Once more, our debt and our “ransom” has been paid in full by Christ on the Cross —
– Mark 10:45 — For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
– 1 Timothy 2:6 — Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
– Revelation 5:9 — You [Jesus] were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
– 1 Corinthians 7:23 — You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
We have incredible riches and freedom in Christ. May God “give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:17, 18)
Note that despite the fact that Jesus makes it clear that He and His disciples are exempt from the temple tax, He pays it anyway, in order “not to give offense to them,” (v. 27) to prevent causing a barrier to the Gospel. Jesus displays the same principle Paul describes in Romans 14 of surrendering Christian liberties for sake of the less mature in faith.
Also, note that although Jesus pays the taxes, He does so miraculously, further demonstrating His authority and power over all creation – again, how foolish is it to expect Jesus to pay the temple tax. This story is similar to one in Luke 20 where the scribes and the chief priests ask Jesus whether it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus replies, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” What is He saying? “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” (Romans 13:7) However, pay proper respect and honor to God first, to whom all is owed! Give to God what is God’s – everything! “What shall I render to the LORD For all His benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12) Jesus obeyed the law but spoke the truth while He was doing it. Do you?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 22 Jan 19: Today, show proper respect and graciousness to others, but don’t miss the opportunity to communicate the truth of Jesus and His Lordship over all.