As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.
When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast 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 me and for yourself.”
Understanding And Applying the Text
This was not the first time Jesus had mentioned His impending death. Matthew (16:21–24). The nearer that time approached, the more frequent Christ warned His disciples. This was to avoid a violent shock to their faith. As it was they were still in despair when the Romans crucified Christ.
Jesus will become the Servant of the Lord described in Isaiah 53. It appears that no one identified the Messiah, the Son of Man, and the Suffering Servant as all the same person. They were all the Redeemer and King. Hearing their savior would die shocked the disciples’. The shock prevented them from hearing the promise of the resurrection.
Jesus and His disciples arrived at Capernaum. Once they arrived the temple tax collectors came to collect the temple tax. This is a tax prescribed in Exodus 30:13. This was not a tax paid to civil authorities.
Some think the tax collectors intended to blame Christ for not paying a tax commanded by God. “Who does He think He is? He does need to pay the tax prescribed by God?” But these types of men tend to be insolent and abusive by nature. It was customary for people to pay the tax in their hometowns. But Jesus had no home, He was itinerant. They may have inquired if He thought Himself exempt from the law on the grounds He had no permanent home.
We should pay attention to Christ’s response. Christ, by paying the tribute of his own accord, declared His subjection. He had taken upon Himself the form of a servant. (Philippians 2:7) But at the same time, He showed both by words and by the miracle, that he was not obligated to do so. It was a free voluntary submission.
The tax collectors address Peter rather than Jesus. This is because Jesus was living in Peter’s home.
When Peter can to Jesus, Jesus’ response claimed His equality with the Father as the Son. Christ pays the tax voluntarily though he had no obligation to do so.
Jesus told Peter to go fishing. Peter was to drop a line in the water. The first fish he caught would have enough money in its mouth to pay the tax for both Jesus and Peter.
It is true Christ’s coffers were not always full. But it was not out of poverty He performed this miracle. It was to show His equality to the Father.