Study on Matthew 17:24-27
The four verses that we’re going to be looking at are found in Matthew 17:24-27. I don’t know about you guys, but when I was growing up I heard several sermons and talks on the second half of verse twenty five. But what I’m going to share with you guys today is the amazing things surrounding the second half of verse twenty five. So let’s go ahead and read through it once and we’ll build from there.
“24After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax[a]?" 25"Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?"26"From others," Peter answered. "Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."
Okay, so what we have here are the collectors of the temple tax, which was two-drachmas, coming up to Peter and asking if Jesus is going to pay his temple tax. The Temple tax was a tax that every man over twenty was required to pay annually for the up keep of the synagogues. Now, Peter was the kind of guy who would act before he really thought out what he was doing. His first thought wasn’t to think about it or go ask Jesus about it, but to just act and take care of it himself.
Out by my parent’s house you could drive about 4 miles to this place we called “The low bridge.” As you probably have guessed, it’s a spot where there’s a bridge that goes across the river out there maybe half a foot above the water. But, there was a swimming hole just to the left of the bridge that all us local country folk would go out to and swim and have fun. There was a rope swing and a cliff that you could jump off however high you wanted. Just have a blast. I honestly don’t see how people didn’t die with some of the stuff they did, or that I didn't die for that matter. But one day, when me and my best friend David were down there, a group of maybe four guys came down and started drinking and smoking and stuff on the bank right across from the cliff. It was something almost everyone did down there, but these guys definitely took it to a new level. They finished their first case of beer and all turned to the guy who had drove them there to go get more.
Now, you can’t park right by the bridge because it would block the couple cars that go by. So you end up having to park up a hill after you go across the bridge. So the guy walks off and disappears. The next thing David and I know, the dude drives his bronco off the bridge! I’m not even joking. He just drove it straight off the bridge and into the water which was about three or four feet deep there and gunned it. To David and I’s surprise, he actually made it to the bank to find his three friends laughing at how stupid he had just been. What was he thinking? Well, He just thought it would be easier to drive his bronco to the bank than have to go back and forth to get beer and cigarettes. The problem came when they wanted to leave and found that they couldn’t just drive the bronco back onto the bridge. So, David and I sat on the cliff for a good 20 minutes laughing as they thought up the most redneck ideas I’ve ever heard to get it out.
Finally, they pulled a huge rock out of the ground and ramped the bronco back onto the bridge, but not before scratching the side up and knocking something loose on the bottom of the bronco. To make the story even better, the guy gets out of the bronco and yells, “Dang! My father’s car! He’s going to kill me!” We've called it bronco bridge ever since…… I’m not saying Peter was that stupid or that he drank or anything like that, but he definitely was someone who acted before he had thought everything through. If you remember, Peter was the disciple who cut the soldier’s ear off in The Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested. We find Peter in verse twenty five speaking for Jesus and trying to clear His name or back Him up. Trying to handle the situation on his own. Something all of us tend to do a lot too.
The next part is so freakin cool. I’m going to read it to you and see if yall can catch what I overlooked for so long in this next part. “When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak.” Now, usually when I heard this, everyone would move on to “Who do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes.” Part, but hold on just one second! “When Peter came into the house, JESUS WAS THE FIRST TO SPEAK.” Jesus, who was in a house while this whole conversation with the tax collectors and Peter was going on was the first to speak. That means He already knew what Peter needed. Peter didn’t have to say anything for Jesus to know his needs. And despite Peter trying to handle things himself and him deciding not to come to Jesus with his problem, Jesus knew what Peter’s needs were.
Now, Jesus and the Disciples didn’t travel with any money or food or anything, so we know, and Peter knows, that neither, him or Jesus, have the money to pay these guys. Still, Jesus knows our needs no matter how much we try to handle them ourselves or hide them. Just let that sink in a bit. How comforting is that to know? That the God of the universe, who created heaven and earth, cares so much about us that He knows each and every one of our needs. Before WE know them for that matter. Let’s keep reading…. And skip down to verse twenty seven now, “…Jesus said to him…”But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line.” The King James version goes as far as to say, “Throw out your hook.” So there isn’t any bait on it…. You don’t have to do anything to make God love you and care for you enough to provide for your needs. He does it because he loves you unconditionally and is full of grace and mercy.
So he says, “Throw out your line (Or hook). Take the first fish you catch;” Peter has to be thinking he’s crazy. You see, Peter was a fisher by trade. He had to be thinking it would never work. But, “open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin.” Just enough to pay for both their taxes and not any more. In an amazing book called “The irresistible revolution” by Shane Claibourne says this. “I am convinced that God didn’t just make too little food or resources for everyone.” He says, “God made just enough for everyone’s needs, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
As a little side note, That’s also why we get overwhelmed and stressed when we worry about tomorrow or the next test or college or whatever it is in our future, because God has given us just enough strength to make it through each day at a time trusting and clinging to him. When we add new needs and worries from days to come, we become overwhelmed. So care about tomorrow. But don’t worry about tomorrow.
I sold door to door last summer and got a lifetime of stories and adventures. Actually got a gun pulled on me, but that’s for another day. Some of the craziest things you could see or have happen happened, but what left the biggest impact on my life is the uncanny ability God has to provide for our every needs. I want to tell you guys of just two times in particular. First, me and one of my roommates were down to maybe two dollars in change. That’s all we had to our names. We hadn’t eaten breakfast and we had been walking most of the day and were beyond starving. So we stopped at a gas station and saw there were two hotdogs for $2.22. We started emptying our pockets and looking in my car to find the change needed to just get a hotdog each. We were standing by the hotdogs, just short of the needed amount, and this lady walked up. She hands us 5 dollars and just says, “I saw you guys going through your change and didn’t want you to have to worry about it.” We thanked her and then immediately thanked God for providing for us. I was thinking, "Thank you God for the simple reminder to care about our lives, but not worry."
Then, no more than a couple weeks later we were back to no money and back to no breakfast or lunch. We were driving to our area to sell and I saw a waffle house. My stomach growled because I knew it would be a while before we ate. Then I got this feeling like we should go. I can't explain it any other way than to say that the Holy Spirit gave me a small nudge. So I turned to my roommate and was like, “we’re going to go eat at waffle house.”..."Whaaaa?" So we walked in and sat down. We had recently decided that a way we could put God into our job was to ask for prayer requests or pray for people without jobs. We had run into so many. That also included praying for God to provide for us. So we both ordered not paying any mind to how we would pay for it. Just trusting God. We got to our last bites and we were going to be a couple bucks short of covering our meal, but I just had a feeling God would provide and so did Nick, my roommate. We started talking about where we needed to go that day and a man walked up and interrupted us. He holds out his hand with a 20 dollar bill in it and said, “You two look like very upstanding guys and I thought you could use this.” Once again, I was floored by how God provides and uses others he’s created. We thanked the man and he rushed off to a meeting he needed to get to.
I tell you all that just to encourage you to trust God and have that open relationship with him. That summer was very hard physically and money wise, but we trusted God and prayed for Him to provide. God longs to blow your mind with his power and Love.
Finally He says, “Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” God provides for our needs, but he doesn’t want us to hide them from Him. He wants us to throw out our line with nothing, no good deeds or works or accomplishments on the end. He wants us to throw out our rusty bare hooks into the vastness of his Love and mercy and watch Him provide for us, Because He loves us. He’s longing for that honest relationship with us. He wants us to cry out to Him with every need and hurt so He can wrap us up in His arms and comfort us and provide for us. We all have a heavenly Father desperate for our attention and desperate to hear everything about our lives. Just lift up your needs and problems and lay down and rest in his overwhelming comfort and Love. Jesus came to earth to spread light on the darkness that we have to go through our problems and handle our needs by ourselves. He died on the cross to give us eternal life and a hope for a future and eternity with Him. Let’s pray……
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