A Just Balance

Today’s Reading: Matthew 17

At the end of Matthew chapter 17 something very interesting to happens. At least interesting to me, I hope you will find it interesting and profitable too. It starts when “they that received tribute money” came to Peter to ask of Jesus “Doth not your master pay tribute?” (Matthew 17:24)

When Peter came to Jesus to inquire of him on this matter. Jesus spoke before Peter and asked him:

What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? (Matthew 17:25)

Peter answered “Of strangers.” That is, they tax not those of their own family but those outside their house.

Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:26)

Some think this was Jesus making it clear that because He was the Son of God the tax does not apply to Him. This is why some believe the tax matter was a temple tax and not a civic tax.

Jesus then said “notwithstanding”, which I take to mean some version of, even though I am not required too. Then Jesus said “lest we should offend them” and then proceeded to describe the precise manner in which they would procure the tribute money for payment.  

At first glance the phrase “lest we should offend them” could be taken as a reinforcing statement of what Jesus first said; “notwithstanding”. In this case the “them” would be referring to the tax collectors. Instead though, let us consider for a moment that the “them” was actually in reference to the strangers that Peter mentioned. If this were the case, I think the statement may be more linked to the manner in which they are procuring the payment and not a repetitive statement describing why they are in fact going to pay. After all Jesus just got done explaining why they did not need to. So, if it is in fact about how they are going to procure the payment, the question then became for me, why is this so important? For that answer I turn back to Jesus’s explanation, “Lest we should offend them.” And this is where it got so interesting to me. 

Here is what I think we may be seeing. Coming up with the money to pay the tax is certainly not a problem for Jesus. I think it is reasonable to say He could have done it in any number of ways. One thought is that he would simply lift His hand up to the sky and ask for it to be created. But the issue with creating is that it wouldn’t be fair.

Creating money in any system and increasing the money supply is simply stealing from those who hold money. It is debasing the currency, which basically means everyone else’s money would than be worth less. God pronounces this as a curse and judgement in Isaiah 1:22. Instead, I think Jesus in his sovereignty and absolute authority knew about a coin that no one had a claim to and commanded it brought to Peter. This way they would not offend anyone, or hurt anyone by decreasing the value of their coins, in paying the tax.

There is of course a strong possibility I am way off here. Perhaps reading too much into things. But on the other hand, perhaps this is why the manner in which they paid the tax was described in so much detail and why it was important for Jesus to break down who the groups involved in the tax were and how they all relate to each other. Perhaps it was to continue to lead us in the way we should go. To give us another example of God’s law applied to this world. For me, yet another reassurance that God is all knowing, all powerful, and above all. Praise God!

Here is a link to the scripture: Matthew 17:24-27

 

Are you ready to finish what you started?

24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?  Matthew 10:24-25

“It is enough…”.  A true disciple wants nothing more than to be like his Master.  Jesus did not have much in the world in terms of tangible things.  He was born in a barn.  As an adult, He did not have a home and all the ‘important’ people hated him.  They wanted to kill him and they did.  Yet Jesus had all the intangible things. Do we want more than what Jesus had?

“…how much more…”  Given that a true disciple does not want to surpass his Master, Jesus gives a warning to those thinking they may want to follow him.  The warning is clear, as you become more like Christ, people will treat you more like He was treated.  How do we want to be treated?  

In addition to how others will treat us, Jesus gives other warnings to those who considered following him.  Knowing the heart of each, perhaps Jesus tailored the warnings.  Do we relate to any? 

Comfort

In Matthew 8:19-20 the scribe who said he would follow Jesus is told that following Him would mean forgoing a life of comfort.  A home is the baseline of comfort.  

Inheritance

In Matthew 8:21-22 one that would follow Jesus is told that following would mean forgoing his inheritance.  Following Jesus, for this scribe, may mean a life without the wealth of his family and perhaps one full of dependence.  “Allow me to bury my father” is another way of saying, I’ll be back once he’s died and I’ve received all that is coming to me.

Family

Later in Matthew chapter 10 verses 34 thru 37 (Matthew 10:34-37), Jesus teaches that following him will mean being ready to depart from family.

Counting the Cost

Jesus made sure we knew the cost of following Him and the importance of counting the cost so we could finish what we started and receive our reward. (Luke 14:25-34, Matthew 13:45-46, 2Timothy 4:6-8, Galatians 6:9).  

Counting the cost of being a Christian means being willing to give up seeking approval and popularity, status and the favor of men, comfort, an inheritance, and even family.  

Counting the cost of being a Christian means being ready to trade all these things for eternal promises.  Not just some.  Here is a promise God made in Matthew chapter 10.  

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. – Matthew 10:39

Oh God, that we might trust You with all. You are good and You alone are worthy of all our trust LORD. Amen.

 

Painting: Christ Calling His First Disciples – Adam Brenner (1800–1891)

Parable of the Fig Tree

Today’s reading: Matthew 24 and Psalm 97

Matthew chapters 24 and 25 are Jesus’ own sermon on His second coming.  Chapter 24 starts out with the disciples asking with immense anticipation, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

Jesus responds, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” I thought this was one of the most interesting (and totally loaded response) in the chapter so I wrote on it for BibleJournal.net almost 2 years ago.

Since I have the privilege of another opportunity to write on this chapter I would like to discuss another statement Jesus made that stood out to me. 

“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 25:34)

The question here is, who is ‘this generation’?  There are several interpretations, one popular is that ‘this generation’ refers to the elect.  In my estimation, Jesus would have just said ‘you’ or something clearer if that were the case.  I have come to think this is a statement of the elapsed timing of the tribulation.  That is, a generation of time will pass from the beginning to the conclusion of the end of days.  Put another way, the generation that sees the beginning of the birthing pains of the end days will also see Jesus’ return.  What do you think?

32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. – Matthew 24:32-34

Christmas is almost here!  It’s a great time to renew and refocus our anticipation of Christ’s second coming!