Lessons Of A Lifetime

More Than A Fish Tale
Or
Where God Guides – God Provides
Sunday Dec. 6, 2020

Scripture To Consider:
“When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?’ ‘He said, Yes.’ And when Peter had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?’

“Peter said to Him, ‘From strangers.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.’                                                                                                                                 Matthew 17.24-27

Something To Consider:
This particular event in the life of Jesus raises an interesting question among some Christian circles. For some ask the question, are Christians responsible for paying taxes to a godless governing city, state, or country? Others have asked, what is a fair amount of tax to be paid?

According to Exodus 30.13, every Jewish male over the age of twenty was responsible to pay one half-shekel as a temple tax once a year. This was equivalent to approximate two days wages. This money was usually collected in the spring for the upkeep of the Jerusalem temple.

There are some theologians who claim this was not a true story. Some base their theory on the fact that Jesus refused to use His power to change stones into bread in the wilderness while He was being tempted by Satan. Jesus, having fasted for forty days and forty nights became hungry but chose not to perform a miracle for His own benefit.

They also claim that if this took place Jesus would be giving His approval for some to become lazy and to depend on God to come to a person’s rescue in meeting their needs. But Jesus and Peter have been busy about the Father’s business. Therefore, I do not see a conflict with Jesus using an unusual but creative method of providing for their needs according to God’s riches in glory.

Something Else To Consider:
In other words, if the Lord is my Shepherd, then I shall not want. If the Lord is my Shepherd, and I am being led by Him, then God will if required, provide for my needs while serving Him. According to Psalm 34.10; “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

In Psalm 107.9; “For He [the Lord] satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” In other words, where God guides, God provides! Where is it that God is guiding you and me? Is He guiding us to a foreign mission field or around the corner to a neighbor we have never met? Maybe we have been forced to leave a job, a church, a marriage, or whatever. And if so, where is it that God is guiding us? For where He guides, He also provides!

Something More To Consider:
The more important issue in this Scripture to consider is the fact that Jesus was concerned more about offending others than He was about whether to pay a tax or not. “Nevertheless, lest we offend them…” Jesus will have some extremely strong words for those who offend in the very next lesson of a lifetime. This would easily have been an opportune time for Jesus to preach against paying taxes to a godless governmental entity, but He chose not to.

That alone should speak volumes to those who attempt to release themselves from the burden of taxation and still claim to follow Jesus. Jesus had already declared that following Him was not a release from all burdens and suffering. Jesus rather instructed His followers to deny themselves and to take up their own cross and to follow Him and His examples.

As Christian believers we have everlasting life to look forward to where there will be no more tears and no more taxes. But until then, let us not be deceived by those who would advocate that which is contrary to the commands of Christ and the conditional commands of Scripture.

The reason Peter was asked about the temple tax was because of the hatred of Jesus by the religious leaders, and their constantly attempting to entrap Him. In John 15.18, Jesus announced, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. We should not fear the world’s hatred but expect it!

A Few Final Words:
Jesus continued His thoughts on the world’s hatred in verse 19 of John chapter 15. “If you [true believer] were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

As we approach the end of this lawless abounding age, keep in mind that this Christian life is more than just a fish tale. Living as Jesus lived and as He commanded us to live has consequences. According to Jesus, “Remember the Word that I said to you. ‘A servant is not greater than his [or her] master.’ If they [religious leaders] persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My Word, they will keep yours also.”

And yet, even in the extreme wicked and evil wave of persecution that is coming and that already exists in many other regions of the world, our goal is as was Jesus’, not to offend with our personal opinions such as whether to pay taxes or not. As true followers of Jesus, at times, our offending others in non-biblical matters should be avoided at all costs, even if it costs us!

For according to Jesus, “Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened his mouth you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” For where God guides, God provides!

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, help us to remain much more concerned about not offending others in non-biblical issues such as whether to pay taxes or not. In Him Always, Amen!

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