I’ve recorded a podcast meditation on Matthew 17: 24-27 below (and would love you to listen 🙂
So the taxman comes for Peter: Does Jesus pay the voluntary,
but expected tax for the upkeep of the grand temple and its
priests (like today’s tithe)? And, as he often does, Jesus asks
Peter what he thinks because, as a friend, he’s interested, and
as a brilliant teacher, he wants Peter to think for himself.
Sons do not pay tax to their fathers, they both agree. Then, Christ,
who repeatedly referred to his powerful body as God’s temple on
earth, decides to pay temple tax anyway to avoid a skandalon, offence.
Christ was unafraid of offending the legalistic Pharisees; he healed
on the Sabbath; he allowed his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath;
he overturned the tables of profiteering temple moneychangers: brave
stands against legalism, greed, and hardheartedness. However, since
his blazing eyes, which see into our eyes, hearts and souls, saw silver
in a fish, to refuse to pay tax would distract from his message. And,
if we, his followers, must sometimes offend our friends, church, or
community, let’s ensure it’s on spirit-guided, God-directed issues.
And Jesus instructs Peter to cast a line and a hook–as amateur
fishermen did–insulting for a professional with boats and nets.
And Christ again demonstrates that he knows best even in Peter’s
one area of professional expertise. And Christ knows best in our
areas of giftedness. His call often involves working just outside
our zone of competence, forcing us to function with the magic of
God’s spirit and energy. The grain of pride must die for resurrection.
And Peter finds silver in a fish. When you lack the money to fulfil
the dream God has placed in your heart, do not rule out His
wonder-working power. Pray for God’s miraculous provision, or
for Christ’s surprising strategies to create wealth, rather than work
yourself to a breakdown, or manipulate or use others to get money.
Will God tell us, on request, which fish in the multitudinous seas
has swallowed silver? He sometimes might, for he hates waste. But
not always. Tim Keller writes, “People think if God has called
you to something, he’s promising you success. But He might be
calling you to fail to prepare you for something else through the failure.
To work all night and catch nothing, as Peter did, strengthens our
character and endurance so that we are capable of becoming fishers of
humans, and, if God pleases, sometimes, perhaps even fishers of money.