Monday, July 18, 2011

Matthew 17:24-27


24 When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two -drachma tax came to Peter and said, ``Does your teacher not pay the two -drachma 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 the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?'' 26 When Peter said, ``From strangers,'' Jesus said to him, ``Then the sons are exempt . 27 ``However, so, that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in 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 you and Me.''

The Temple tax was one-half shekel per year for every Jew over 20. It was used to renovate and restore the Temple-to keep the facility functional. Since Jesus was Lord and Owner of the Temple, He and His "children" should have been free of taxation. However, Jesus orders Peter to pay it anyway for both of them to avoid any unnecessary conflict or offense.

It's a curious incident and I think there may be two basic teachings here for us: 1. Some things just don't matter that much. This is an illustration of Jesus' willingness to comply with the conventions of the society of which He belonged. This traditional application of an Old Testament law was not worth arguing over. It wasn't worth a battle!

2. It's OK, even a good thing, to contribute to good things-synagogues and churches, because these religious organizations do good work-relieve pain, poverty, hunger, etc.

Again, I am struck with the fact that Jesus nor any of His apostles took a stand against the synagogues of their time (churches today). Even though Jesus was out to build His church (His gathering or assembly of His followers) and wanted His disciples then and now to BE THE CHURCH, He was still willing to financially support good things.

Jesus was even willing to perform a miracle to illustrate His point. So, this reminds me of the concept we call "orbiting". We practice being the church of Jesus by gathering together around the apostle's teaching, prayer, fellowship and the breaking of bread, but we are to orbit around the synagogues (churches) of our day. Why? Looking for those who are God-fearing, attracted to the person of Jesus and His kingdom and when we discover interested people, we begin walking with them ALL IN THE NAME OF JESUS.