When they came to Capernaum the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He (Peter) said “Yes.”
And when he (Peter) came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he (Peter) said, “From others”, Jesus said to him “Then the sons are free.”
“However, not to give offense to them go to the sea and cast 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 me and for yourself.” Matt 17:24-27
“Come, let us reason together…” is the first thing that comes to mind. This is not so much about “who is to pay what and when” or even “sovereign provision” but Jesus saying “Come on, Petey-let’s think about this a little bit and see if we can unravel the situation and discover the Word of the Lord…”
Here is a situation that doesn’t get done a lot these days: Let’s talk about the Purpose of God; let’s talk about the Word of the Lord; let’s wrangle and tussle with the Bible and see if we can dive deeper and discover “pearls of great price.”
I don’t do it much, anyway. I tend to think by myself and, if I share my thoughts with someone else, I can’t talk through it well enough to make sense as it comes out of my mouth. It’s something, isn’t it? There is a stirring in the heart, a wonder in the mind, and the words are just not there. Huh.
A couple of things to take notice of: It takes an imagination to see the humor in the Bible. Take for instance this situation: Tax collectors say “Hey, does your master not pay the tax?” And Pete says “Yes.” What is Pete answering? Does Jesus pay the tax or does Jesus not pay the tax? Saying “Yes” answers which question? I get a kick out of these small jokes.
On a serious note Jesus beckons to Peter: “Come over and sit with me. What do you think of this tax question?” and He leads Peter to the understanding between Children of God and those that aren’t-a little glimpse anyway. Did this instance come to mind in Peter writing later “You are a chosen generation…a people of God’s own possession…” (1st Peter 2:9)? Maybe.
I am pointing this out to myself to remember that it is the little lessons the Spirit teaches that piles up on one another, layer by layer, brick by brick, keeping us on the road to maturity and understanding. But I can’t do it alone or just talking to the guy in the mirror-I have to be vulnerable, transparent, open with my comrades. I have to do my part in cultivating a god-focused vision and mind. This is different than evangelizing the way we may know evangelizing.
It is being absorbed.
“How can I thank You, O Lord, for taking my sin on the Cross?” the song goes. Thing is, God, that anything that comes out of my mouth is inadequate. What is neat is that You know it is inadequate but you don’t consider it inadequate. In my mouth You have put Your praise and are glorified in it. Pretty cool.
I ask for cultivating friends, O God. AMEN.