Matthew Chapter 22, pt 1: A Wedding & Taxes

In tonight’s lesson, we will read a parable of Jesus’s and also an exchange between the Pharisees and Jesus on the subject of taxes. 

In verses 1-14, Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast. In this story, a king invites guests to his son’s wedding and then sends servants to call the invited guests to come attend the wedding when it is time. However, the invited guests refuse to come to the wedding. In fact, the invited guests treat the wedding lightly, and some of the invited even killed the servants sent to fetch them to the wedding. 

As a result of this, the king sends more servants out to invite anyone to the wedding, so that the wedding hall would be filled with guests. And so it was.

When the king came to see the guests, he saw one man there that did not come prepared to the wedding; he was not wearing a wedding garment. This guest had no explanation as to why he came unprepared. The king had this unprepared guest cast out. 

In this parable, the wedding feast is the kingdom of God. Those guests originally invited are the Jewish people. The servants sent to call the invited guests to the wedding were the prophets of God. The king is God and the son is Jesus. The people that are brought to wedding at the last minute to fill the hall are those that hear His message today and follow Christ to salvation. The lesson with this parable is to not be like the man that came without a wedding garment. For this is the same as professing to be a follower of Christ yet not putting on the attributes and following the commandments and virtues laid out for the new kingdom. If we say we are faithful Christians, yet do not act accordingly, we will not be admitted to heaven, but will also be cast into outer darkness. 

In verses 15-22, Jesus navigates through a trap set by the Pharisees to catch Him in a quandary about taxes. The question they ask is whether or not it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. This question is devised as a trap because many Jews did not want to pay taxes to their Roman oppressors. If Jesus says that the taxes should be paid, then he loses the loyalty of those loyal to the Roman government. However, if he says to not pay the taxes, He could become the target of the Roman government as mounting an insurrection against the government. 

Jesus’s answer is not to pay the tax, but to render the tax back to the government from which it came. The distinction of “render” versus “pay” is important because to render implies to give back to where it came from, or to where it is rightfully owed. This is different from payment. The meaning therefore is that we should follow the rule of law of the land. In fact, to do so is the will of God, but not to follow the law where it contradicts with the Word of God. 

I encourage you tonight to listen and pay attention to God’s holy Word. For in it is all we need for a righteous life approved by God.

Matthew Chapter 21, part 2: Authority, Prophets & A Warning

Tonight we will conclude our study of Matthew chapter 21 by reading versed 23-46. 

Jesus returns to Jerusalem after having cleansed the temple. He begins teaching in the temple and is asked by the elders where He gets the authority to teach. By Jesus’s calculated answer, we can deduce that He was suspicious of their motives. He detects that they seek to expose Him as a phony, or trap Him into making a statement that they could use against Him. So Jesus answers their question with a question of His own: “The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?”

With this question, Jesus creates a trap of His own for them. Either way they answer, they put themselves at a disadvantage considering their set of goals: the Jewish elders there in Jerusalem seem determined to maintain their power and influence. To say that John’s baptism was from Heaven (God) gives weight to John’s teachings and claims of the new Messiah (Jesus). On the other hand, if they say that John’s baptism was from men, this is akin to saying that it is meaningless and has little or no spiritual consequence. Saying this would turn the people against them because many follow John the Baptist. So they remain silent; taking no position is the best position for them considering their value of retaining power. What this does is reveals a lack of conviction and a lack of dedication to the truth. Instead of truly being interested in God’s message, the elders were more interested in selfish things and were concerned with their image and the retribution of the people. Jesus knew this, and in their attempt to expose Him, He actually exposes them.

Verses 28-32 build on this condemnation of the elders. In this brief parable, Jesus shows the elders how they are like the son that said that he would go work in the vineyard, but did not. The elders purport spiritual lives of leadership and piety, but really they are corrupt and they value the wrong things. The followers of John the Baptist, however worldly-seeming, were actually more justified before God because they were earnestly seeking Him and the believed His message. I wonder where I would fall if I were to have been alive back then. Would I have followed John and believed or would I have stayed with the stagnant faith of the elders?

The lesson for us here is that we should be aware of, and examine our motives because our motives are usually an indicator of what we value. If, like the elders, our behavior reveals motives that are supported by the wrong values, we can see this and examine why we behave the way we do. It is not usually easy to see where we have gone wrong in our thinking. But we are definitely very susceptible to making mistakes as humans and our behavior is one way we can backtrack to see how to adjust our values. Once our values are aligned with God, our perspectives and behavior will naturally regulate. Not an easy exercise, for sure, but a worthwhile one!

The final section for tonight is verses 33-46: the parable of the wicked vinedressers. In this parable, the landowner is God, the vinedressers are the Jewish people, the landowner’s servants are the prophets of God and the landowner’s son is Jesus.

The point of this parable takes the idea that the Jewish leadership have been poor stewards of God’s message further. In this instance, judgment from God is implied and the recipients of God’s future blessings are those that have truly heard Him: “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

That statement of one falling on the stone and breaking him is another reference I believe, to the humility required to become a child of God. Arrogance, boasting and an attitude of “better than” are ungodly and when the stone falls on people that seek themselves instead of God, it will grind them to powder, disintegrating them.

The additional and sobering point to take away from this parable is that everyone will end up interacting with the stone. We will either let it break us through obedience and the grace of God, or else we will will resist and be subject to judgment. Jesus is the stone. How will you respond? 

“For it is written: “ As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.””‭‭ Romans‬ ‭14:11

Matthew Chapter 21: Jesus Enters Jerusalem

Tonight we will study verses 1-22. If you can, please read these verses before we begin.

In verse 5 of our reading tonight, there is a prophecy quoted from Zechariah 9:9 where the King (Jesus) comes to the daughter of Zion (Jerusalem) riding on a donkey. Why a donkey? Because Jesus is gentle and lowly in heart and humble in spirit. It is a good example to follow.

When Jesus came to Jerusalem, it was very significant. Jerusalem was the central city and capital of Israel and was held sacred in Jewish tradition as the chosen place of God for His chosen people, the Jews. Jesus’ arrival there is important because it connects the old law and the new law. 

Under the old law and in the Old Testament, the Jews were God’s only chosen people and they were to sacrifice animals for their sins, with many restrictions and rules to follow. The new law that was to come under Jesus Christ contains outright forgiveness of sins through God’s grace based on Jesus’ upcoming crucifixion. The Jews knew of Old Testament prophecies that reference a Messiah to come, but when Jesus humbly rode into the city on a lowly donkey, kicked merchants out of the temple and challenged the status quo with parables, the spiritual leadership in Jerusalem did not accept Him. They were looking for more of an earthly king, not the spiritual one that Jesus was.

Jesus was not focused on pleasing the Jewish spiritual elite of Jerusalem in the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Scribes. Jesus was focused on completing the will of God in heaven. Jesus saw far past their influence and instead focused on doing the will of God. This is why it was so easy for Him to flip the tables and chairs of those in the temple changing money and selling doves to be sacrificed. Jesus was revealing this practice as a perversion of the old law. He knew that the hearts of the spiritual elite in Jerusalem were not truly seeking God. He wanted to expose their hypocrisy and the charade of godliness. Jesus knew their hearts, that they were only seeking themselves. 

This idea is borne out in verses 18-22 with the withering of the fig tree: in this passage, the fig tree is Jerusalem. The fig tree that Jesus saw by the road would have been full of leaves and would have also had a small, edible fruit at that time of year (Jewish Passover), but it was empty. Jesus was hungry and wanted the fruit but was disappointed to see that it had none. So Jesus performs a miracle on the tree that it shall never bear fruit again. The fig tree is Jerusalem because like the tree, Jerusalem appeared to be fruitful as the capital city of God’s chosen people, but upon close inspection, the people in Jerusalem did not bear any fruit for God. They looked and talked well, but they were of little use to God and did not praise and glorify Him as they should. 

Despite this miracle, Jesus uses the withered fig tree as an example to show the disciples how powerful faith and prayer can be. Because of this, the withered fig tree offers us two lessons:

1. Appearing godly does not make us godly; it is our actions, obedience and sincerity of heart that do

2. Faith and prayer can do more for us than we can imagine; we need only to believe 

Having spent enough time on the first lesson tonight, let us close on the second. I ask myself if I ever put limits on what I think that God can do. Is there something in my life that is too hopeless? Is there a situation that worries me that I have tried and tried to change, but nothing has happened? God can and will help us, but we must obey, believe and pray. God wants you to be happy. He sacrificed His own Son so that we could have the forgiveness of our sins. If we know that God did this for us, we cannot put limits on what else He would do for us now.

Tonight, I urge you to pray and to believe! 

Matthew 20, pt. 2: Ruling

Tonight in verses 17-34 of Matthew 20, we will look at a few examples of how Jesus interacted with His disciples and how He revealed more of the will of God. 

Verses 17-19 have Jesus telling the twelve about how He will be tortured and crucified in Jerusalem. Unlike previous occurrences, this instance does not record a reaction from the apostles when Jesus tells them He will be killed. By now they know that Jesus is convinced that He will die in Jerusalem.

Verses 20-28 show a mother trying to get the best for her children. Zebedee’s wife comes to Jesus on behalf of her sons James and John, who are apostles. We first came to know of James and John in Matthew 4:21 when they were mending nets with their father and they began following Jesus. By now some time has passed and their mother is convinced of Jesus’s teachings about how He is the Son of God and that there is a new kingdom. But her understanding of this kingdom seems to be that it will be an earthly kingdom. She requests from Jesus that her sons James and John be given the honored places of sitting at either side of Jesus when He reigns. 

But Jesus has to correct the three of them. His ultimate message to them is that these places of honor are not his to grant, only God in heaven can do this. The brothers are able to suffer and die just as Jesus will, but this does not ensure that they will sit on Jesus’s right and left and rule in the kingdom. In fact, we understand now that God is the one sitting and ruling on the throne while it is Jesus that is sitting at the right hand of God (Mark 14:62).

Let us not be confused by this talk of sitting and ruling at the left and the right. It concerns how the power structure is organized in heaven. The one sitting on the throne, or in the middle, is God and He has all the power. Sitting to the right or left simply means those that would be second-in-command and these places are places of great honor. Granted, there is much of this that we cannot yet comprehend, but the basic power structure is something we can relate to.

There is a difference, however, in how we understand power and how Jesus explains heavenly power. It is explained in verses 25-28: “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

It is again this mysterious theme of the greatest being the least and the least being the greatest. It seems so counter-intuitive, but if we want to be great in God’s kingdom, we need not to think ourselves as great, but consider ourselves as humble servants. God wants us to be lowly in spirit, gentle in heart, and giving of our resources, our gifts and talents. Using our abilities for the glory of God is our true purpose, so to seek and serve the Lord will be what brings glory to Him and likewise, we will be glorified in Him. 

In the final verses of this chapter, we see Jesus having mercy on two blind men. It is encouraging to see this because it is Jesus practicing what he preached!

Tonight I encourage you to not seek attention for yourself or ways that others can be impressed by you or your abilities. Rather, see how you can bring glory to God by using your talents to help others. In this way, the glory of God will work in you!

Matthew 20, pt. 1: The Vineyard Workers Parable 

In verses 1-16 of Matthew 20, Jesus tells the parable of the workers in a vineyard. To quickly boil it down, this parable teaches us that everyone will have the same reward for following Christ, regardless of when or how we come to follow Him. 

Some of the workers that began working in the vineyard early in the morning were upset that others that had been working much less time received the same wage that they did. To this, Jesus replied: “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” Matthew‬ ‭20:13-16

‬We see this phrase, “the last will be first, and the first last” spoken many times by Jesus in the gospels. I usually associate this phrase with how we view ourselves. That is, if I think of myself as first among others, I will behave selfishly and not love my fellow man, and will therefore be last in the eyes of God. But if I think of myself as last, I will put others’ needs before mine and will serve and love others as God would have me do.

But in this passage, it seems to take on a slightly different meaning. In this passage, the last were those workers that were chosen to work in the field last and they ended up being first because they received the same reward as those that had worked all day. And the first workers chosen were ridiculed because they questioned how the master chose to reward. So, ultimately, the lesson of this parable is threefold: 

1. Be grateful for your reward

2. Do not envy the rewards of others 

3. Do not presume to second-guess the gift-giver

These lessons apply in many different ways. They can be readily applied for children. They can apply to adults with jobs, accomplishments, material things, etc. And they can ultimately apply for our spiritual reward in heaven. This parable tells us that God accepts each of us when we come to Him, no matter what our physical, mental or spiritual state is at the time. If we are sincere and obey His will, God will accept us. What a comfort that is.

Let us not forget the phrase: “For many are called, but few chosen.” While many people hear of and know of Christ, not everyone believes and follows Him. Pledge to do your part to lead others to Jesus and make sure that you also remain faithful until death!

Matthew 19, pt 2: A Convicting Passage

In verses 13-30 of Matthew 19, we have Jesus counseling disciples, a young rich man and the apostles. The wisdom that Christ hands down in this passage could only have come from Him, as it reveals knowledge of God and His judgment.

Verses 13-15 are an echo of the subject we studied recently of how we are to be as little children if we are to enter God’s kingdom. The disciples were preventing the children from coming to Jesus but Jesus allowed it. Retaining innocence and assuming good intent as children do is an attribute that God expects of us as His children. 

Verses 16-22 comprise a memorable story and if you have not read about the rich young ruler until now, enjoy it! 

Jesus is approached by a young and wealthy man that wants to know what he has to do to be saved. This is a worthwhile question, one we all have, and it is easy to see asking Jesus for the answer as Jesus has the authority. For the rich young ruler, it gets personal quickly and his zeal to serve God does not quite overtake the zeal he has for his possessions. Even though he has followed all of the commandments, he is unable to surrender completely to God because of his love for worldly things and material possessions.

It is a sad story. The young man is earnest in his love for God and we can see that he truly wants to serve the Lord. But he is still holding back. In his heart, he has not completely put God in the center.

This makes us look at ourselves and ask: 

– Is there something Christ would ask me to give up on in order to be saved?

– If yes, what is it? 

– Would I be willing to give it up today?

And most importantly . . .

– Why not give it up now? 

Because if there is something keeping me from serving the Lord, I am better off now and in the long run to jettison it from my life. And it could be anything sinful: alcohol, cursing, greed, jealousy, holding a grudge, etc. I urge you to make it your goal today to not have anything standing in between you and your desire to serve God. The story of the rich young ruler and Jesus is in our Bible for a reason, after all.

The final passage for tonight is verses 23-30. In this exchange between Jesus and the apostles, Jesus teaches grace. It is impossible for man to earn his way into heaven, because each of us has knowingly sinned and rejected God at one time or another. But with God’s grace, forgiveness is extended to us through the sacrifice of His Son. This grace allows for rich men to enter God’s kingdom even in the midst of all the temptation and materialism that comes from being wealthy. Salvation is by no means automatic, and requires belief, faith, baptism and effort. Once we enter into that holy relationship with God through Jesus, we have access to this grace. What an amazing thing!

That is why we, as sinners, always have a reason to be happy. We have our great God who loves and accepts and cares for us, even though we are unworthy.

To conclude tonight, let us resolve to live and love with humility. Let us forgive one another and endeavor to serve God’s interests and the well-being of others.

Matthew 19, pt. 1: Marriage & Divorce

Tonight we will read and reflect on the meaning of the first 12 verses of Matthew 19. 

Looking first at verses 1-10, we see Jesus adeptly answering questions from the Pharisees regarding divorce. Verse 3 tells us that the Pharisees were testing Him, asking whether it was okay for a man to divorce his wife for any reason He chooses. They knew that Jesus would say that man should not separate the marriage that God has put together. The only reason that God allows for divorce is sexual immorality or adultery. 

The Pharisees have Moses’ guidance at the ready to dispute Jesus’s decision, but Jesus has an answer for this as well. He tells them that Moses permitted divorce in the patriarchal age due to the people’s unwillingness to adhere to the marriage model. But now, the Son of God sets forth marriage guidance in the new covenant: that divorce is only lawful if one partner or the other commits sexual immorality. And if a person marries someone that has been divorced for any reason besides sexual immorality or adultery, that person also commits adultery.

With these rules, the disciples say that it would be better to not even get married. And to this, in verses 11 & 12, Jesus talks about men that choose not to marry, calling then eunuchs. Jesus says that some men choose not to marry and some men have no desire to marry. 

The bottom line of this entire lesson is that one should not get married unless they are prepared and committed. 

The things that permit divorce are understandable, but real commitment in a lifelong marriage requires strength, faith, fortitude, patience, perseverance, understanding, kindness and love.

Matthew 18, pt. 2: Forgiving Others

Tonight we will read from the book of Matthew and will resume our study from last week in chapter 18 with verses 15-35. If you are able, please read the verses before engaging with me in the study below.

In the first group of verses, 15-20, Jesus explains how to deal with a person that is sinning against you within the church. There is a process to follow outlined by Jesus that assures a confidentiality at first, then evolves into increasingly public communications. The guidance is smart and it makes sense because it protects the interests of all parties involved, even the offender’s, up to a point. But once the offender shows signs that he or she is unwilling to acknowledge their behavior, protecting their interests is traded for protecting the interests of the person offended, and then the church’s interests overall. In terms of solving often messy and perspective-laden personal conflicts, Jesus’s guidance is practical and sound. 

One of the most memorable components of Jesus’s guidance is the number of times we are to forgive a sinning brother or sister: up to seventy times seven. Does this mean that once I forgive someone 490 times I can stop and write them off? No, Jesus did not mean that. Instead, he means that I should forgive someone as many times as needed, as many times as they seek forgiveness. After all, God does this for us.

In the second section of our study in verses 21-35, we get another parable from Jesus. This parable is memorable because it can provoke a reaction.

In this parable, money is equated to offenses. God is the master and we are the slave that owes the master money. The money is simply a vehicle to engage or attention as it relates to the sins we commit against God’s commandments. The servant begging his master to forgive his mountainous debt is the same as us asking God to forgive us of our long list of sins. 

It is truly a wonderful and joyous thing that God can and does forgive us of our sins. The main point of this parable, however, is what we are going to do with this forgiveness? Will I accept it and continue in the ways that led me to sin? Or will I accept it and incorporate the spirit of forgiveness into my life? The servant in the parable did not keep the spirit of forgiveness after he was forgiven. Reading the story, the servant comes across as a sort of ungrateful and wicked villain. Jesus tells the parable in such a way that it is easy for us to see and judge the servant’s behavior: How could the servant be so bold as to be forgiven so much and then turn around and show no mercy to another that owes him?

It makes us look at our lives and the people we have forgiven or have not forgiven. If we are saved by God through Jesus Christ, then we are the servant, having been forgiven the great spiritual debt of our many sins. How then, would we appear to God if we were to not forgive someone of something they did to us? The sin that this parable is warning against is one of not having that same great spirit of forgiveness that we receive from God. It is almost hypocritical of me to receive and experience God’s forgiveness while exercising a lack of forgiveness of someone seeking it in my life; knowing I have been forgiven of so much and the good, deep feelings of gratitude and happiness it brings ought to motivate me to forgive the people in my life that have treated me poorly. 

Do you have anyone in your life that you need to forgive? Maybe they have asked for your forgiveness and you have held it back from them because you feel justified, because their offense was very great. The point of tonight’s lesson and the parable is to compare our forgiving spirit with God’s and to follow the example He sets when He forgives us of a lifetime of sin. Also remember what happened to the servant when the master found out that he was not being forgiving despite all of the forgiveness he received: his forgiveness was revoked and he was handed over to torturers until he paid all that he owed. It is a depressing picture and drives the point of Jesus’s parable home in a way that is not easy to forget. 

Since we have been forgiven, we must also forgive.

Matthew 18, pt. 1: To be the Greatest, be the Least

Tonight we will be studying Matthew 18, verses 1-14. The first five verses of this passage give us a practical view of the disciples, putting them in a very normal light. How many discussions do men have trying to determine which is the best basketball team, best business venture, musical group or computer product? Mankind likes to categorize and arrange things into hierarchies. The disciples were trying to do this when they were wondering who is best in the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps they were thinking of Elijah, Moses, Abraham and other great men of faith in God. They simply wanted to know who was greatest, or best. 

But when they ask Jesus, His answer to them changes our entire perspective on putting things into hierarchies, at least in the godly sense. Because God is the greatest and this is absolute! Aside from God, there is no one that can be greater.

But this fact is beside the point of Jesus’s statement. Jesus is ultimately trying to communicate to them that if they even want to get to heaven, they need to think differently: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭18:3-4‬

This means not thinking in terms of “Who’s best?” or “Who’s better?” but instead not concerning ourselves with these things and concentrating more on being humble. This means not thinking highly of ourselves and also looking for opportunities to help others. Humility implies a lack of selfishness in our thoughts and an increase in our awareness and consideration of others. You see children act this way, and often. Ultimately children do grow up to think like adults but there is a time in childhood when we are naturally curious and have an empathy for others. Children with this frame of mind are not worried about who is best of where they are in the pecking order; rather they are innocent and unassuming.

Jesus is telling the disciples that if they want to be the greatest, they need to be the least. And this state of mind needs to be the goal of every follower of Christ. Instead of asking why we are treated differently or why we didn’t get what we deserve, we need to ask who we can help and how can I help facilitate?

Verses 6-9 have Jesus taking the discussion in a new direction: offenses, or temptations. Specifically, Jesus is talking about leading others into temptation: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” So whether it is Satan or a bad influence, anyone that leads a believer into temptation is sure to receive grave consequences. 

The latter part of this section in verses 8 and 9 show Jesus telling the disciples the importance of spiritual purity: that it is even more important than our physical faculties. In other words, if I am unable to prevent myself from sinning through prayer, willpower, etc., it would be better for me to remove my eyes and prevent the sinful activity that way. A profound statement, for sure, but it also reveals how God would have us arrange our priorities. It shows us how much more important our spiritual life is over our physical one. 

To close tonight, read verses 10-14. Here, Jesus talks of the importance of a single lost sheep to a man. Jesus mentions how much the man celebrated when he finally found the sheep and how he celebrated over that single sheep more than the other 99 sheep he owned. This is an analogy (or parable!) showing how God rejoices over a lost soul returned to Him. It does not mean that God loves the lost more than the saved, but it does mean that God seeks the lost more because the saved are already with Him. 

If you have left God, know that God is looking for you to return. And know that when you do, He will rejoice. Tonight I urge you to not think highly of yourself, to see what you can do to help rather than criticize, and to seek God in your heart and in your deeds. This life is so short and the pleasures are fleeting. It is wisest to spend time investing in eternity with Him over the thin substance of this life. 

Praise God!

Matthew 17, pt. 3: Prophecy & Responsibility

Tonight we will finalize our reading of Matthew 17 with verses 22-27. 

Verses 22 and 23 show us again Jesus telling His disciples about His upcoming fate of death and resurrection. The disciples loved Jesus and were following Him everywhere, hanging on every word He spoke. Jesus’s proclamation of His death made them very sad and we can still reasonably assume that they did not completely understand what Jesus meant when He told them. Nevertheless, He did tell them and was prophesying in His own right. Much like the prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus was not always understood but the meaning of His words were revealed as the truth of the events came to pass. 

Blessed are we that now we can understand Jesus’s words!

In verses 24-27, Jesus makes two important points to Peter. Men had come collecting the temple tax and asked Peter whether Jesus pays the temple tax. Peter just says simply “Yes,” then goes in to Jesus to inquire about it. Without Peter having to ask, Jesus knows what is coming and asks Peter from whom the king’s of the earth take taxes. Is it from their sons or from strangers? Peter rightly says it is from strangers. Jesus is making the point that He is the Son of God, and that He does not need to pay the tax. That is the first lesson Jesus teaches Peter; that as the Son of God, He enjoys a close and special relationship with God, one that is beyond our comprehension. 

Jesus is also affirming that He is indeed the Son of the God who is spoken of in the Old Testament, who dwells in the temple.

The second lesson Jesus teaches Peter is that we still should meet certain responsibilities, even if it is just to convince others that we are trying to do the right thing. Jesus tells Peter to find the necessary tax in a fish taken out of the sea. In this way, Jesus works a miracle, satisfies the tax and pays nothing all at once. 

The power of our example is greater than we think it is, especially as we age and younger people look up to us. 

Tonight I urge you to look up to Christ’s example. He always did what was right and He did it in every instance. We do fail as men and women trying to live a godly life, but we should not let our failures discourage us. Rather, we should always hold Jesus’s example as our standard, and try to reach it even though we know we will often fail. After all, it is God’s grace through Jesus that makes our salvation possible.