Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.”
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Yesterday, we set the stage for my favorite of Jesus’ miracles. Today, we come to the miracle itself! Let’s look at it verse by verse…
When they came to Capernaum, (17:24)
Remember what the disciples had been arguing about on the way to Capernaum? Who was the greatest. They still expected Jesus to throw off his worn rags and overthrow Roman rule in strong military fashion, and then they would be the King’s right-hand men…
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, (17:24-25)
Jesus spoke first. He knew what Peter was thinking before he even spoke….
saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? (17:25)
Jesus knew Peter’s heart – he knew of Peter’s dreams of glory and crowns that come with being a king…
From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. (17:25-26)
I can imagine Peter thinking (and fist pumping in his head…) “YES! The sons are free. We don’t have to pay the tax. You OWN that temple, Jesus! You are the King – and we are free from the tax! No go in and show them your GLORY!” And Jesus did show His glory – but not in the way Peter expected.
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” (17:27).
To paraphrase what Jesus said to Peter… “for the sake of the gospel, I will not offend the man in the temple – but you, Peter, know that I am Lord of Creation. To you, Peter, I will show that I have the power to control all of nature. To you, Peter, I will show that I am Lord of the rulers of the earth as I put their coin in the mouth of a fish. And you, Peter, need to know that I will lay it all down for the sake of the gospel and for the very man who works in the temple.”
If that weren’t clear enough to Peter… Jesus made his point crystal clear in the next verses. Only those with the humility of a child would be considered great in the Kingdom of God. The way of Jesus is service, humility and sacrifice. Are you willing to walk in the way of the Savior? Or will you be swept up in the strong current of the world – the way of power, wealth, fame and self-satisfaction?
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves… [Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:3; 6-8).