Summary: Jesus had been carrying His disciples through intensive training for some time now. He had been zeroing in on His death and resurrection In this passage, Jesus showed just how capable a teacher He really was. He was able to take the visit by a tax
SERMON Christ and His Good Citizenship, Matthew 17:24–27
Jesus had been carrying His disciples through intensive training for some time now. He had been zeroing in on His death and resurrection In this passage, Jesus showed just how capable a teacher He really was. He was able to take the visit by a tax collector and continue to make the unique claims of Messiahship and at the same time teach the importance of good citizenship. He is God’s Son, and every believer is responsible to be a good citizen.
1. Jesus was visited by tax collectors (v.24).
2. Jesus demonstrated good citizenship: He paid taxes (v.25).
3. Jesus made a unique claim about His own citizenship (vv.25–26).
4. Jesus set the standard for citizenship: paid the tax to keep others from stumbling (v.27).
5. Jesus demonstrated His citizenship and Messiahship: He paid the tax miraculously (v.27).
What was the Temple Tax?
The Temple Tax, which was about ½ a Shekel per person ($50), was required by every Jew (age of 20+) yearly. This is Atonement money.
This kind of tax was first imposed on the Israelites by Moses (the half-shekel for redemption, which equals 2 drachmas; Exod. 30:11-15) for every male Israelite over twenty years of age. The money was used for the upkeep of the Tabernacle, and later, the Temple.
It was customary for all Jews and due on the 15th of Adar, which was six months before these tax collectors arrived. It was regarded as a patriotic, as well as a religious duty.
(17:24) His Omniscience : Jesus was visited by a tax collector. Perhaps Jesus was behind in His tax payments because He had been away for so long. The tax collectors approached Peter instead of Jesus because it was Jesus’ habit to lodge in Peter’s house when in Capernaum or perhaps because they feared Jesus.
The tax spoken of is the temple tax. The temple was an extremely expensive building to maintain just as any large building is. Time deteriorates furnishings, even stone and mortar, and all has to be replaced. In addition, there was the upkeep of the priests, their shelter, food, and clothing. There was the provision of the animals, incense, wine, flour, and oil used in the sacrifices which had to be offered every day—and the list could go on and on. Upkeep of the temple was so expensive that a nation-wide tax had to be imposed upon every male Jew over twenty years old. It was just a small tax (one half-shekel) for each man, amounting to about two days work; nevertheless, it had to be paid. It was collected annually by the tax collectors setting up their tax collecting booths in strategic locations throughout the country.
(17:25) Jesus as Good Citizenship Jesus demonstrated good citizenship. He paid taxes. It was His practice to pay taxes, and Peter knew this. Therefore, Peter was able to answer, “Yes, the master pays taxes.”
Secondary thought here that stands out those who say they do not attend church because the church has too many hypocrites in it. In Christ’s day, the temple was a den of thieves, and much of its worship was hypocritical and corrupt; yet Christ supported it (Mt. 21:13; Mk. 11:17). Why? There are at least three reasons.