The temple tax collectors approached Peter and asked him directly, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?”
Peter was on the spot. He didn’t really know if Jesus intended to pay the Temple tax or not. But instead of confessing he didn’t know, he decided to wing it. Sure he does, Peter said.
That was quite an assumption. And that must have been quite a long walk home, wondering the whole way back what Jesus really thought about the Temple tax.
Upon his return, as Peter walks in the door I can see in my mind Jesus chuckling to himself. What do you think Simon? Jesus asks. Who do the kings of the earth collect taxes from–from their own kids, or from others?
Peter had to be thinking at this point, I am so busted. Uh, from others, Peter answers.
Then Jesus graciously explains to Peter that, “…the children of the King are exempt. But so we don’t offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch, open its mouth and you’ll find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
How Jesus Loved People
I bet Peter was thinking Jesus would be upset. Maybe he thought Jesus would send him back to the temple tax collectors to explain why Jesus wouldn’t pay the tax. (Wouldn’t that be fun?) Or maybe he thought Jesus would rip up on him in front of the other disciples. Or maybe Peter thought Jesus would make Peter come up with the money himself. Whatever he was thinking, he had to be surprised when Jesus told him to, Go catch a fish and I’ll make sure there’s enough money inside it to pay your tax and mine.
Jesus showed Peter nothing but grace. That blows my mind because Peter really did blow it. He had no authority to answer on Jesus’ behalf when he had no idea of Jesus’ position on the issue.
Peter: he failed miserably.
But Jesus: he showed such grace.
Love Like Jesus
What I do, and what I so often see others do, is when they learn someone blew it on their behalf, they blow it too–they blow up. “What did you tell them that for!” “You idiot, you didn’t know what you were talking about!” “You have got to be kidding me, you didn’t really tell them that, did you?” And that can happen even when there’s no money involved. When there’s money involved–it only gets worse.
What Jesus did with Peter, I have seen done to others: and it can be one of the most powerful ways there is to love people. The wife wrecks the new car and expects her husband to be upset, but her husband shows nothing but grace. The employee blows the deal costing the company a boatload of cash and expects the boss to be upset, but the boss shows nothing but grace.
Listen, it will probably feel completely counterintuitive, but do a u-turn and steer your emotions in precisely the opposite direction your feelings want to take you. You will be amazed at the results. This is one of the most powerful ways to love like Jesus.
Next time someone is expecting you to be upset, blow their mind: show them nothing but grace. Do it and see what your Father in heaven does in that relationship.
That’s what Jesus did.
You can too.
After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak.“What do you think, Simon?” he asked.“From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
“From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
There’s actually a fish species in the Sea of Galilee called chromis simonis, it’s named after this account of Simon Peter catching the fish containing the coin. (Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament)