Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
"What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth receive duties or head tax? From their sons or from the strangers?" (Matthew 17:25)
*today's text discussion is specifically related to field service presentations for the ministry, so I'm gonna summarize the main points and give a related summary.
Jesus had an outstanding way of teaching. One of the methods he used was to draw out his listeners by using thought-provoking questions which required them to use their own reasoning abilities. In today's scriptural text, Simon (Peter) had just been approached by tax-collectors, who asked him: “Does YOUR teacher not pay the two drachmas [tax]?” He said: “Yes.” (Matthew 17:24) So Peter had responded to this question automatically, without exactly thinking his response through. So by asking the question in today's text, and allowing Peter himself to answer it: “From the strangers,” Jesus was helping him to understand that as God's Son he was not under obligation to do this, by then saying to Peter: “Really, then, the sons are tax-free. But that we do not cause them to stumble, you go to the sea, cast a fishhook, and take the first fish coming up and, when you open its mouth, you will find a stater coin. Take that and give it to them for me and you.” (Matthew 17:26, 27)
This account can really help us to reason with an individual who may feel uninclined to honor their responsibility when it comes to paying taxes (regardless of the reason) by showing them how even Jesus, the Son of God himself, did not use his noble heritage or birth-right, as a reason to avoid paying what the government required. Jesus' humble attitude in paying "Caesar's things to Caesar" (Mark 12:17) is such a positive example for us, and worthy of imitation.