Fish & Taxes.

#FunFactFriday – Because TGIF!

Did you know, Jesus and Peter once paid taxes with a coin found in a fish’s mouth. 

fish-taxMatthew 17:24-27 (NASB)

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma 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 the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. “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.”

The event here is deeper than the miracle. Peter had declared that Jesus was the son of God in Matthew 16 and the tax referred to here had come to be known at temple tax by the time of Christ. As such Jesus makes sly remark when He says,

From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers? 

To this, Peter responds: From strangers

Then Jesus replied: This means the sons are exempt.

What Jesus was getting at here was that since the temple was the house of His Father, this raised a question as to the propriety of taxing Him, (Jesus) the father’s son, since sons are exempt from tax levied by kings. (Be careful not to misunderstand this as Jesus classing himself amongst the kings or princes of this world since He clearly isn’t.)

Having established His exemption, Jesus proceeded to address the issue from another perspective – the tax should be paid so that his exercising his right would not be a stumbling block to the revenue officers and others. Stumbling block — means an excuse for others not to pay the tax. He then sent Peter fishing in a manner that demonstrated that He was in fact the Lord over all creation – He had the power to know about a fish with a shekel in its mouth, which was just enough to pay the tax for the two of them.

This scripture is widely quoted today to support the fact that Christians have obligations and should not refuse to pay tax. Ages ago, Jesus knew that He had to pay that tax, even though He was exempt from it, so that the generations to come would not use His legitimate reason for being exempt from the temple tax as a false excuse to not pay our taxes.


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