Friday, July 21, 2017

Fresh Look at Matthew: Matthew 17:24

--> The account of the temple tax in the fish’s mouth sounds apocryphal, like one of those Gnostic gospel portions.  We’ll assume Peter actually paid the tax after finding the money.  Is this metaphorical—he sold the fish and had enough to pay the tax—or literal, there was really a coin there?  Well, I have no trouble with the raising of Lazarus, so I guess a coin isn’t a big deal, although it comes across like a magic trick. 

But why?  Jesus is meeting Peter’s need.  Jesus paid taxes even though he was Creator!  He is paying the temple tax—not a Roman tax, but a religious one, so “as not to offend.” Not giving offense for the sake of offense or heedlessly, needlessly, has a priority in the Christian life, but that means  we don’t ever offend. The gospel itself is an offense, so let’s not offend in little things so that the major thing—the cross and humility before it—are not missed.  WE must be humble to match the cross message.  So pay your taxes, act right.  Don’t be a nonconformist for the sake of being different.  Don’t rock the boat for things that don’t matter—even if the temple tax was part of the corrupt system (well, they paid it by catching the fish!)  WE have bigger fish to fry (bad pun!)

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