Hey – late post, but hopefully you’ll still have time to take a peek at our upcoming passage.
We’ll be reading Matthew 17:22-27 this Sunday. It’s a highly unusual story. One that’s unique to Matthew’s gospel, but understandable considering his tax-collector background.
The story opens in v22-23 where Jesus once again announces his upcoming arrest and execution, as well as his resurrection. Again, the disciples are puzzled. What reason can you imagine for this repeated message to his disciples?
When they get to home to Capernaum, they are confronted by “collectors of the two-drachma tax”. This was a tax instituted in Exodus 30 as a census tax that went to support the temple operations. The priests would go to outlying areas up in Galilee and collect it from the Jewish people. When the collectors corner Peter, they assume Jesus isn’t going to pay that tax. Why do you think they would assume that? Interestingly, a sect within Israel, who was contemporary to Jesus, the Essenes, openly opposed the temple tax. As cited in the dead seas scrolls, they believed the proper application of Exodus 30 was a once in a lifetime tax, not an annual one.
Peter answers in the affirmative, but when he sits down with Jesus, he gets a different perspective. He gives a parable about the kings of earth and how they operate a tax. Who do you think the “children” are in his story? What do you think his point is concerning the temple tax?
When Jesus capitulates, he does so not to offend. Who do you think might be offended? What can we learn about Jesus’ attitude and our calling here? What do you think is worth offending people over when it comes to our faith?
The fish story at the end…that’s something, huh? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever found? The text doesn’t tell us whether Peter went and did this or if it was meant as just a story for Peter – but either way, there is a plain point being made. Who is it that provides our ability to navigate through this world of ever present cultural expectations? Let’s trust him for the wisdom to live well.
See you Sunday!