Jesus and his crew roll into Capernaum and before Peter can even get to his house the Temple tax police corner him and ask if Jesus intends to pay His tax. Peter, apparently trying to avoid trouble just says “Yes” and then rushes into the house to tell Jesus.
Before he can open his mouth Jesus asks Peter a question, the point of which is that since Jesus is the Son of God, He obviously has no obligation to pay such a tax.
After all, the tax supported the temple where people worshipped God, and Jesus was God, the very object of that worship. Taxing Jesus was like making Peyton Manning buy a ticket to the next Indianapolis Colts game.
And here is the point of Jesus teaching: “However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” (Matthew 17:24-27).
Jesus refused to let the issue of money come between Him and His ministry. If Jesus had refused to pay the tax based on His identity it would have been easy for His critics to say He was claiming to be the Son of God to avoid paying taxes. Jesus chose not to give them the opportunity.
When I hear of the salaries of some of the pastors of megachurches in the U.S. I wonder if they’ve ever read this passage of Scripture, and I wonder how badly they want to reach non-Christians.
Let me make something clear. Im not offended by pastors being well-paid. I think pastors should be well-paid. In fact, if it were up to me, in a perfect world, they would be the highest paid of all vocations.
But we don’t live in a perfect world, and in a corrupt world the No. 1 priority should be reaching the corrupt with the Gospel. So why hinder that effort over the issue of money? Jesus didn’t. GS