Summary: Actually, this passage is about a lot more than taxes. It focuses on the relationship with have with our Father, and what that means to Him and to us. The principles gently and intimately taught are astounding!
Passage: Matthew 17:24-27
Intro: Much of our life takes place in quiet moments, either alone or with just one person.
1. and in those times of quietness and something close to solitude, a different picture often emerges.
2. we have seen Jesus in such situations, and there has been a great tenderness and concern for the individual that is easy to lose in the “mob scenes”
3. here is another, with Jesus in his home base in Capernaum, perhaps just resting.
4. but let’s pick up the story as it unfolds, and observe the character of Jesus.
5. we can take great comfort here, no matter what our situation is.
I. Jesus Cares with Complete Knowledge
1. Peter is front and center in these last few chapters, isn’t he.
2. walking on the water, making a wonderful confession of faith, mistakenly correcting Jesus, seeing the transfiguration and speaking without thinking.
3. and in v24, set upon by at least two men whose job it was to collect what is called the “two-drachma tax” about $100 in our day
4. I believe this was a specifically Jewish tax, collected to support the ministry in the Temple.
5. OT command in Exodus 31:13
PP Exodus 30:13
6. only Matthew mentions this distinctly Jewish interaction.
7. the question is asked in such a way as to expect a positive answer.
8. and Peter’s response was emphatic…”Sure he does”
9. might have ended there, but Jesus spoke up.
10. v25. “Jesus was the first to speak”
11. so he initiated the follow up, and he knew about it supernaturally.
12. but more than that, he cared about Peter in this situation.
13. did Jesus pay this tax? Apparently He had not yet!
14. so now Peter was in a bit of a pickle.
15. but rather than scold him, Jesus cared enough to initiate a discussion about foundational issues.
16. there is a great tenderness here, a concern not only for Peter’s integrity, but for his training
17. Jesus knew what was going on, and addressed it.
18. Jesus has the exact same relationship with you.
PP Matthew 28:20b
II. Jesus Teaches with Perfect Wisdom
1. this little event quickly became a fascinating teaching moment.
2. started with a question to engage Peter, “what do you think…?
3. “kings of the earth” is not really a positive characterization. What is the world’s system? How do things usually go?
4. even in the world’s system, things are based on relationship
Il) Queen Elizabeth started paying taxes voluntarily in 1993.
5. but Peter answers how much of the world still would, taxes are based on relationship
6. and then Jesus, applying this to the present situation, says “the sons are exempt”
7. two questions arise: who are “the sons”, and “why are they exempt from this particular tax?”
8. first, notice Jesus says “sons”, so not just Him.
9. means everyone who has a Father/son reconciled relationship with God.
10. so they are exempt from this particular tax. But what was the tax for?
PP Exodus 30:12
11. so they took this “offering” when they wanted to count the people in census.
12. had a practical purpose.
PP Exodus 30:16a
13. but it had a spiritual significance as well…it was atonement money.
PP Exodus 30:16b
14. “atonement”=”to appease, cover over, forgive, cleanse, pardon, reconcile”
15. all the definitions have one thing in common
16. a sinful state or condition that stands in the way of relationship and needs to be dealt with.
17. so what was the state of Jesus in this regard? He had no sin, and therefore no need to be reconciled.
-he was the sacrifice!
PP 1 John 4:10
18. same with Peter, because of his faith connection to Jesus.
PP Matthew 16:16 Jesus says, “He’s with me!”
19. and because of this relationship of sonship; this convenient tax custom, loosely based on an OT command, inconsistently applied and completely out of its original context, was declared by Jesus to be of no consequence for the reconciled Jewish believer.
20. Jesus is the authoritative interpreter of the OT, and of the laws and rules of men.
21. and He has freed us by His blood from the need to be atoned for by works.
III. Jesus Provides with Infinite Power
1. Now this last verse is kind of comical
2. Jesus, under no compulsion but to avoid causing trouble, provides in a very unique way.
3. throw in a line, take the first fish, get $200 coin out of his mouth, and pay the tax collectors.
PP) Four drachma coin.
PP Cartoon of Peter with fish and coin
4. this was not a small amount of money, but God provided in this incredibly unique way. What are the chances!?
Il) story of a couple in tough times, had to leave their home, in cleaning up found a box of old comic books, one of which was the first edition of Superman!