Matthew 17:24-26 (AMP)
24When they arrived in Capernaum , the collectors of the half shekel [the temple tax] went up to Peter and said, Does not your Teacher pay the half shekel? 25He answered, Yes. And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him [about it] first, saying, What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly rulers collect duties or tribute–from their own sons or from others not of their own family? 26And when Peter said, From other people not of their own family, Jesus said to him, Then the sons are exempt.
There was a temple tax that was imposed on all the men over the age of 20. This served as a means of maintaining the temple. Only one group was exempt from this law:
Their sole responsibility was to work for the Lord.
Exodus 30:13 (AMP)
This is what everyone shall give as he joins those already numbered: a half shekel, in terms of the sanctuary shekel, a shekel being twenty gerahs; a half shekel as an offering to the Lord.
When Peter was asked the question, “Does not your Teacher pay the half shekel?” It was an obvious question to answer, “Yes.” If he would have answered no, this would have given the Pharisees an excuse to cause more friction against Jesus and His disciples.
When Peter went home to discuss the situation with Jesus, Jesus didn’t respond quickly. He redirected the question back to Peter, “What do you think?” They started a discussion about it.
Do earthly rulers collect from their own families or others? I have to question that for a moment; because we have families, who in an instant would charge us for everything. If it was up to them, they would charge us the temple tax and then some. *smile*
But in a normal scenario, we tend to give favor to our family members over everyone else; and it is so to the earthly rulers as well.
“Then the sons are exempt.” Who are the sons Jesus was referring to?
Jesus came to Earth not to establish an earthly kingdom, but to establish His Heavenly Kingdom. He was to come as the High Priest and be the bearer of all our sins. He was the Son of God and part of the earthly family. But the Jews didn’t recognize Him as one of their own; a prophet, a priest, The Messiah.
Jesus could have argued that He was exempt from paying the temple tax because he was a prophet spreading the Gospel. But He decided to abide and pay the tax and keep the peace among everyone.
We have to remember, we’re in a foreign land, but that doesn’t exempt us from our obligations and responsibilities here on earth. Sometimes, we have to oblige to keep the peace. We may not like the situation, but in order to continue on our journey to where God wants us, we have to pay that tax, whatever it represents in your life, and keep moving on.
Please understand that there is a limit to keeping the peace and the Lord will always prompt us to fight back in a situation. There are times to be silenced and times to speak up. If we walk in the Spirit and not in our own strength, we’ll strive for excellence in God’s Will.
Jesus was in a very political and religious controversy in His ministerial life. He had to be careful to say and do as God wanted Him to do because people were watching Him and taking note to every step He made. Rightfully, He didn’t have to pay the tax, but He knew it was better to pay and prevent then to not pay and frustrate the situation.
Romans 13:1, 7 (AMP)
1LET EVERY person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God’s appointment. 7Render to all men their dues. [Pay] taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due.