Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Matthew 17:22-27 God's kingdom is priceless
As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
"The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day."
And they were overwhelmed with grief.
When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
"Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?"
"Yes," he said.
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?"
When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him,
"Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you."
This passage is very rich in symbolism. Here we see Jesus challenging the religious institution of his time by first not paying a temple tax and then submitting to the custom of a temple tax through a miracle. Jesus' explanation on the need not to pay tax is interesting because what he is saying is that since they belong to God and are God's people why should they pay? Does salvation have a price? How can you take something spiritual and and put a price on it? This passage reminds us that our alms giving should be done our of love rather than compulsion. God's kingdom is priceless and so placing a mandatory tax on those who wish to praise God makes prayer cheap.