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Summary: This is one fish story that's true! It shows how we shouldn't limit God's meeting our needs. It affirms our special place as Sons of God and Jesus Himself models how to avoid offending people when unnecessary. Obedience brings blessings!

PETER’S BIG FISH STORY

Mt. 17:24-27

INTRODUCTION

A. HUMOR: Tax Jokes from Reader’s Digest

1. “It’s time to pay my income tax. And, brother, that’s no joke. For after paying IRS, I find that I R broke!” —Jerry Henderson in the Lubbock, Texas, Avalanche-Journal.

2. “As April 15 draweth nigh, My spirits start to droop. A poor, downtrodden slave am I, In short, an income poop” —Fred Meyers, quoted by Jack Rosenbaum in the San Francisco Examiner.

3. “Income tax is almost due, And this makes me today, Another shaking member of, The I.O.U.S.A.” —Martin Buxbaum in Table Talk.

B. TEXT

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25 “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?” 26 “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

C. THESIS

1. Life with Jesus is never boring! There were a lot of unusual things that happened around Jesus. This is certainly one of them.

2. We’re going to see how the tribute was demanded, how Jesus gave up His rights and paid it, and the strange method He used to do it.

3. The title of this message is, “Peter’s Big Fish Story.”

I. THE TRIBUTE DEMANDED

A. A TEMPLE TAX

1. Shortly after Jesus and His disciples arrived at Capernaum, Peter received a visit from the collectors of the temple tax. They asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” Matt. 17:24.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. It’s quite probable that the prompt appearance of the tax-collectors was due to a plan of the alert enemies to involve Jesus and Peter in a breach of a recognized obligation.

5. This tax was, undoubtedly, in addition to the tithes that were sacred to God.

6. IMPORTANT POINT: Church Always HAS and Always Will Cost Something.

a. It would be really nice to think that God’s church would never have to worry about money. But that’s not the way it is.

b. As long as the church is on this earth there will be expenses -- the light bill, trash, gas, water, sewer, lawn mowing, janitorial, nursery, preschool, youth, secretarial, internet, phones, licensing, salaries, etc, etc.

c. Thank you for contributing to the church – we must have it to keep operating.

B. CHRIST SET US AN EXAMPLE

1. Peter's answer, "Yes, it is Christ's principle and practice." We should "render to all their due, tribute to whom tribute is due" Romans 13:7.

2. Though the Temple leadership was corrupt, and though Christ styled it "a den of thieves" and it's priests opposed Christ -- He still upheld the principle of supporting the work of God.

3. If the Church should be amply supported when at its worst, how much more does it deserve support when it’s at its best!

4. Also, if Christ will Himself pay tribute, who can claim exemption?

II. JESUS GAVE UP HIS RIGHTS

A. ANTICIPATES PETER’S THOUGHTS

1. The Omniscience of Jesus. Jesus, like Elisha (2 Kgs. 5:26) knew what had transpired between the tax collectors and Peter.

2. If Jesus, in His earthly body, could read the hearts of men and women, how much more now that He has filled the universe (Heb. 4:14) and been enthroned at the right hand of the Father?

3. We should stay aware that Jesus constantly knows our deepest secrets; nothing is hidden from Him. So we shouldn’t deceive ourselves into thinking He doesn’t know every detail about our lives.

B. WHY JESUS WAS EXEMPT FROM THE TAX

1. He appeals to the ways of Kings of the earth. Parents and children held all their goods together. It would be absurd for parents to levy taxes on their children.

2. The official website of the Royal Family read, “In 1992, The Queen volunteered to pay income tax and capital gains tax, and since 1993 her personal income has been taxable as for any other taxpayer.” (Denn Guptil)

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