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.