Protect yourself from offense.
Not always, and not all of us are sympathetic to the other person. When we do not know the situation, the circumstances, or the reasons, we can be offended or suspicious of the other person’s behavior. That is why it is necessary to behave correctly at the moment and not be hasty.
In the Gospel, the Lord Jesus announces to the apostles that the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, but He will rise from the dead on the third day. The Lord Jesus also preaches to Peter to pay the temple tax for himself and him.
Today’s prediction by the Lord Jesus that He will suffer is the second in the series. In the first one, Peter was offended at the Lord Jesus’ action and said to Him: “May God be gracious to you, Lord! This shall not happen to you!” (Mt. 16:22). Then the Lord Jesus rebuked him openly: “Get out of my way, Satan! You are an offense to me, for you have no sense of the things of God, only of the things of men!” (Mt. 16:23).
Peter is no longer silent. He has learned that if he wants to take a stand on something serious, he must know the matter. Even though the Lord Jesus predicts His Passion for the second time, the apostles are greatly grieved. They did not understand why their Master should suffer and rise from the dead. Perhaps these words caused the apostles to think that their mission would also be destroyed if what the Lord Jesus taught was damaged. Indeed, it will not be until a little later, when the Lord Jesus rises from the dead and they remember His words, that they will understand their meaning and significance. The Lord Jesus wanted to protect them from the indignity of seeing Him die a shameful death, so they would remain firm and not be offended.
The second part of the Gospel talks about paying the temple tax. From his twentieth year onwards, every Jewish community member in the time of the Lord Jesus was required to pay an annual tax for the Temple in Jerusalem and the services of half a shekel and two drachmas.
According to the words of the Lord Jesus, Peter finds a state in the fish, which means four drachmas; thus, with one condition, he pays for both. This fee was collected at the Passover. Some circles refused to pay the price. Therefore, the question addressed to Peter by the temple tax collectors is justified. This attitude of the tax collector also tells us about Peter’s perspective in the circle of Jesus’ disciples. Indeed, this man also considered Peter, the head of the group of disciples. Because he doesn’t want to let anything happen to his Lord, he responds without much thought that he pays his taxes. He meant well; it just turned out badly. Peter will experience something similar even later when he, in good faith, defends the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and cuts off Malchus’ ear with a sword. Peter acts out of inner love for the Savior, but without deliberation and not really in the spirit of his Master.
Therefore, the reports of the Apostle Matthew should move us to rejoice that he did not overlook the Apostle Peter’s faults but marked them. It is more accessible to us, too, when we are aware that from time to time, we make mistakes and errors out of love for the Lord Jesus and that when we act out of love, we often work quickly, without much thought or reflection.
Not only Peter but also Jesus calls us to think when He asks us directly through our conscience, the Holy Scriptures, and other persons, questions similar to the ones Peter received. The mighty ones of this world demand tax only from their subjects, not from their own. Thus, as Lord of the temple, the King of Heaven will also not require a temple tax from His only-begotten Son. Let us realize how beautifully the Lord Jesus exalts His filial portion to the Father. And the Lord’s disciples also share in this, having been made God’s subjects by redemption and His free sons. That is why the Lord Jesus speaks of sons free from taxes.
The Lord Jesus wanted to help Peter, so He advised him to take the fish and thus avoid possible offense with the tax collector. The Lord Jesus uses His power, and a miracle happens. This miracle proves the power of the Lord Jesus and His worthiness.
Let us always trust God! But we are also to use our reason, abilities, and talents. Do not give offense to anyone, nor be afraid of him. We must seek to know the circumstances to have a clearer idea and make a righteous judgment.
Let us always be careful in our every word and thinking about others. Let us also be mindful of our conduct.
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