Meditation for Monday

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter and said, Doth not your Master pay tribute? Matthew 17:24

A beautiful large medieval castle in England had become too expensive for the owner to maintain. So the owner converted the castle into a tourist attraction and charged admission for people to come and have tours of the castle and its property. He had a modest apartment prepared for himself in one corner of the castle, and turned the remainder of the impressive property over to the tourism business. Because the castle was so impressive, and because admission rates were reasonable, the business did well. One day, the owner dressed in old clothing so he could go fishing with a friend, and left for the day. When he returned, he was surprised to be challenged at the gate by the young woman who was collecting admissions from tourists. This young woman had been recently hired by the business manager and had never met the owner before. She demanded the admission price, and to avoid causing a fuss in front of the real tourists, the owner paid the admission. He was like the Lord Jesus whose disciple was asked whether his Master paid the temple tax.

The tribute being referred to is the half-shekel that each adult Israelite was expected to pay each year toward the upkeep of the temple (see Exodus 30:13-15). As the Son of God, the Lord Jesus should not have been expected to contribute to the financial upkeep of the House of God, any more than the owner of the castle should have to pay admission to enter his own castle. But we know the story, how the Lord Jesus, to teach Peter a lesson, had Peter catch a fish with the tribute money in its mouth. Yes, the Lord Jesus paid tribute, even though He should not have been asked to do so. This account displays the wonder of His humility in His willingness to identify with those He came to save.

As the Son of God, the Lord Jesus did not need to take on humanity. But He did, willingly being clothed in human flesh with all of humanity’s physical needs, weaknesses, and passions. As the Son of God, He did not need to be born in a barnyard, dwell in Nazareth’s humble burbs, work in a carpenter’s shop, or associate with plain work-a-day labourers and fishermen. But He did, willingly receiving sinners and eating with them. As the Son of God, He did not need to be dragged like a common criminal before the high priest’s court or Pilate’s judgment seat. But He did, willingly being despised and rejected of men and falsely accused. As the Son of God, He did not need to hang on a Roman cross. But He did, bearing our sins on His own body on the tree.

The Lord Jesus did so much more than pay tribute to the temple, and for His willingness to do so we return thanks today. -Jim MacIntosh

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