Lessons From Taxes: Matthew 17:24-27
“24) When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” 25) He *said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” 26) When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. 27) However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” Matthew‬ ‭17‬:‭24‬-‭27‬
As Jesus and His disciples returned to Caperaum from Caesarea Philippi, Peter was approached by a tax collector about paying the two-drachma tax. Most scholars consider this as the annual Jewish tax valuation Moses prescribed for the temple service and not a tax imposed by the Romans. (Exodus 30:13, 38:26) It was collected from men ages twenty to fifty.
This tax was considered voluntary. In outlining areas, it was collected primarily from strangers to prove they valued the religious services provided by the local Jewish religious leaders. Over time it became like a “customs tax” imposed on travelers through the area.
By paying the tax, Jesus was acknowledging that He was like a pilgrim passing through, yet He honored Moses, the Law and the temple. He was not going to enter into an argument over residency. After all, He was from Nazareth about twenty-five miles to the south east.
What becomes intriguing about the story is how Jesus displayed the attributes of Deity. Notice that He spoke to Peter first about the ordeal. This was a display of Omniscience. Only God knows all things. This quality was again displayed by foretelling about the fish and the piece of money in its mouth.
I cannot imagine the sequence of events that transpired for the stater to be in the mouth of the fish, but Jesus knew it! Peter did exactly as Jesus instructed him and so it happened.
It now become intriguing to follow the exchange between Peter, Jesus and fish. Two times when Peter came up empty with his fishing, Jesus provided nets full of fish. Here, He provided one fish with one coin in its mouth to pay the poll tax. Peter didn’t even have to sell the fish. It was a small but magnificent miracle. Finally, in John 21, Jesus provided a breakfast of fresh broiled fish to feed His hungry disciples. This was in the morning, before the daily fish market was open.
We could spend significant time on these stories. Each one is fascinating and full of insights. But when taken together, they point to the Deity of Christ. He is the Provider. He not only knows your needs, He is able to provide them in extraordinary ways.
On the humorous side, this story might draw a comparison between tax gathers and fish! They are both slimy, bottom dwelling… (LOL … I will let you finish the sentence.) Ok, I confess, I value the humorous side of life. Laughter is good medicine… it is the only medicine I take daily and often enjoy it in excess. It helps me keep a healthy perspective on life. I believe it is a biblical key to happiness in life. (See Proverbs 17:22)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global