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The Willingness of Royalty by Pastor Paul Becker

February 26, 2023 - Matthew 17:24-27

Hey, it's tax preparation season, so let's talk about taxes! Jesus asked Peter, "From whom do earthly kings collect tariffs or taxes? From their sons or from strangers?" Peter answered, "From strangers."

In the Book of Exodus, we learn about an offering to pay for the administration and upkeep of the Tabernacle. (Exodus 13:11-16) After being freed from Egyptian slavery, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before entering the Land promised to them, by God, through Abraham. The Tabernacle was an elaborate tent that served as a place of worship. God established an offering to teach the men of Israel to support the ministry of the Tabernacle. Later in history, God instructed Israel to build a temple in Jerusalem. The Temple replaced the need for a mobile tabernacle. The offering of support continued.

In Jesus' time, the offering to support the Temple became a formal collection of a Temple Tax. Peter was approached by Temple Tax Collectors and asked if Jesus paid Temple Taxes. Peter told them that Jesus paid the Temple tax and then reported the meeting to Jesus. Before Peter said a single word, Jesus asked him about kings and taxpayers. Jesus established that earthly kings do not tax their sons.

Jesus demonstrated that he had every right to declare his exemption to the Temple Tax because he was God's Son. Instead of offending the Temple staff, Jesus did something miraculous. He told Peter to cast a fishing line into the sea, take the first fish, and open its mouth to receive a coin. Peter obeyed, and the coin's weight satisfied the tax assessed to Jesus. The coin was also weighty enough to pay for another man's tax. Jesus told Peter to offer the coin for his tax and Peter's.

Jesus paid the debt Peter owed to the Temple, which pointed to a more significant debt that Jesus would pay on Peter's behalf and yours. Reading further in Matthew, Jesus was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to die on a Roman cross. He was not guilty of violating God's law, but the Jewish religious leaders believed he was a sinner of the worst kind. To them, Jesus was a blasphemer who spoke irreverently about God and holy things. To them, he was a sinner for whom no sacrifice would atone. Jesus laid aside his right to innocence, and his divine royalty, to accept the death penalty, and it wasn’t his to pay.

In summary, Jesus is the sinless, royal Son of God who willingly laid aside his right to be exempt from dying for sin. When Jesus laid aside his right to be exempt from the Temple Tax, it pointed to how he would lay aside his right to be exempt from judgment, conviction, and death for sin on the cross. As for the coin in the fish's mouth, it pointed to God's provision of Jesus to Peter and you. Jesus is the coin whose worth covers Peter's debt and yours for sin. This story shows the willingness of Royalty to lay aside rights to demonstrate grace, mercy, and love from the royal house of God to yours.

Let us agree that Jesus is worthy of our united, public worship every Sunday morning.

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