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July 8th, 2014
JESUS PAID ALL REQUIRED TAXES #44 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith untolion and lamb him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.  Matthew 17:24-27. As we consider the subject of taxes, it is important to understand that two different tax systems are discussed in the gospels. One was a temple tax, the other was a tax to the Roman government.   On their way from the Mount of Transfiguration, someone approached Peter and ask if Jesus paid the temple tax. Peter’s response was that He did. A tax was required by Old Testament Law to care for the temple. “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD. Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls. And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.” Exodus 30:11-16. When they came to Peter’s house, the lord ask Peter a question before any other subject could come up. The word “prevented,” means that Jesus spoke before Peter could say anything. The question and its solution reveals many wonderful truths. It meant that the Old Testament Law was still very much in force. Jesus would pay the temple tax, not because He had to, but to fulfill all righteousness, and set an example to others. The kings of the earth did not collect taxes from their own children. They collected taxes from their subjects, or strangers. Since God was the Father of Jesus, He was a son, and not required to pay the temple tax. Nevertheless, He paid them. Because He valued the Law, the temple, and the purpose for which it served, He voluntary paid the tax.  The ministry of the temple required large sums of money. Among many were the expenses for the Priest themselves. It should be noted that, although much of the temple service was corrupt, Jesus still paid His tax. In the command to catch a fish that would have a coin in its mouth, with which to pay the tax, we see the omniscience of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter would never forget that miracle, and it would strengthen his faith for the turn of events that were soon to happen, that is, the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. Two lessons were learned. One, the importance of setting a good example to others, and that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.    
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