Wednesday, October 15. Matthew 16 – 18

You’re going to find 17:24-27 difficult.

Not that it is difficult to read: the story is rather straight-forward.

It’s not even difficult to understand. We get the basics.

The difficulty comes in Jesus’ meaning and application.

Tax collectors deputized by the temple in Jerusalem arrive in Capernaum to collect the annual temple tax. This tax was required by every Jewish male over twenty years old for the support of the temple and its programs. The tax was not mandated by the law of Moses, but came about during the days of Nehemiah (10:32-33). Some groups opposed the tax and refused to pay but even though neither Jesus nor Peter had paid theirs, Peter was certain Jesus would not object.

Jesus used the occasion to teach Peter a lesson about “place.” Those who sit in seats of power seldom tax themselves or their family. They tax others. Families are exempt. Jesus observes that since he and his disciples are royalty, they too are exempt.

This is the part that is difficult.

Followers of Jesus are really citizens of another kingdom. God’s kingdom. They are members of the royal family. Whatever their nationality, their citizenship is in the Kingdom of Heaven. We must act different from the world and not subject ourselves to its influence or rule.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to file your 1040. Jesus says we pay taxes and submit to human structures to keep from “offending” people of the world and causing trouble. Never forget who you are. Always remember to act accordingly and be gracious in your actions and responses to the requirements of the world. That’s the way real princes and princesses life.