Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jesus Pays the Temple Tax

The Great Commission

Part 15 – Jesus Pays Temple Tax

Pastor Bruce A. Shields

House of Faith – |


Jesus is Transfigured on the mountain

Peter wants to build tabernacles to saints

God speaks of Jesus, He is the ONLY ONE to listen to!

Christ will not share the praise, or the prayer, or the worship with even the greatest of saints. He alone is worthy.

The Disciples fail to heal a boy because they lacked Faith

Jesus heals boy and rebukes the Disciples for their lack of Faith


It is from this point where Jesus and the Disciples leave for Capernaum, where Jesus spent most of His time and used as a central base for His ministries.


Matthew 17:24 – 27

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?"

25 "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 sons or from others?"

26 "From others," Peter answered.

"Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27 "But so that we may not offend them, 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."


I. What was the Temple Tax?

a. The Temple Tax, which was about ½ a Shekel per person ($50), was required by every Jew (age of 20+) yearly. This is Atonement money.

Exodus 30:11 – 16

11 Then the LORD said to Moses, 12 "When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them. 13 Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. This half shekel is an offering to the LORD. 14 All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD. 15 The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives. 16 Receive the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the service of the Tent of Meeting. It will be a memorial for the Israelites before the LORD, making atonement for your lives."

b. We are told that this Temple Tax was for all those 20 years and older to pay to the Lord, and it was to be used for the service of the Tent Meeting (Church or place of worship).

Now this atonement money did not PAY for their atonement anymore than animal sacrifices removed their sins.

This was symbolic, and meant as a teaching tool and constant reminder of the atonement to come, the real cost of it, and how each, whether rich or poor is going to owe the same debt to God.

This Temple Tax was known as Ransom Money, and was a reminder to the Jews of God’s provision of Redemption, and of their obligation under the terms of the Mosaic Covenant.

Christ died on the Cross; “He gave Himself a ransom for all” 1 Timothy 2:6

The amount equals approximately $50.00 by today’s money, and all were to give the same, whether rich or poor.

This places every man on an equal footing in relation to God. So no man could boast of what he gave, thinking himself better or higher than another. For in God’s eyes, we are equal. There is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, only those in relationship with the Father, and those in opposition to the Father.

The second you think yourself better than another, you have stepped out of relationship and placed yourself in opposition to the Father.

But the yearly Temple tax was not the regular offering to the Temple, or Tithe.

Tithe in the Old Testament was 1/10th of what you earned, given back to the Lord as a reminder of where it really comes from.

All that we have comes from God.

Again, this money is used to support the ministers and the Temple upkeep.

We see again 1/10th was the command, because it puts everyone on the same level again.

If you have $100 and I have $10, and we both tithe 10%, you give $10 and I give $1, then we have both tithed 10%.

But man, always looking to make himself out to be better than the guy next to him…

Do not think highly of yourself because of what you give, because if there’s one thing the Old Testament has shown us, is that “there is no man who can pay what he truly owes to God!”

Mark 12:41 -43

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.

Why? Because it’s not about the amount…it’s about your heart, and what you sacrifice in your life for the Lord.

The rich gave from their wealth.

But this widow, gave all that she had, she gave everything.

God does not judge the monetary value of our tithe or gift to the ministry, but our heart, and how we’ve surrendered.

This woman had totally surrendered and trusted in the Lord for her provision.

She gave everything, with the Faith that God would continue to provide.

You see, in the Old Testament tithes were 10%, but in the New Testament we are taught total submission and surrender to the Lord.

Just as the widow did, she surrendered all, and an outward sign of that surrender to the Lord was how much she gave to the Lord’s work.


Are you surrendering everything in your life to the Lord?

Not just money, remember tithe and gifts and offerings are just an outward symbol of what is going on inside your heart. what about time?

What about time in prayer?

What about time in reading His Word?

What about time in talking with Him?

What about time for those in need?

Jesus said, what you do for the least of these people, you do to me.

How do you treat those who have nothing?

Those who are hungry, can’t pay their bills, or are in jail?

Jesus said, what you do to them, you are doing to me!

We look down on those in jail so often. Have you ever thought that maybe they are there is because they have never had the opportunity to meet our Lord and savior?

Did you think for a moment that maybe the reason they are there is because no one has ever truly loved them? They felt they had nothing to lose when they did what they did that ended them up in prison.

Jesus said, I did not come to judge the lost, but to save them.

News flash, many in prison are lost.

Yet we sit back in judgment, as we often do.

Judging peoples lives instead of reaching out and showing them the love of God.

I pray that you have the compassion of Christ for the Lost!

We will do a series on tithing as soon as we are done with the life of Jesus because there is so much to talk about.

Paul had gone to preach, and they weren’t paying him.

Some complained because he was working outside the ministry.

He says in the scripture, You know what is due me, and I could demand it, but until you do what is right, I will work.

I know of a few Pastors in this town and Oscoda who are not paid well, sometimes not at all for their work.

I often wonder how long people in the congregation would work at a job where they were not being paid?

But Paul gave them time to come around, and they eventually did.

When the people do not obey, the body of Christ suffers.

When people do not give to the Temple, the Temple suffers.

People say “God will supply…”

And He does! He has given each person here a way and means.

And it is the responsibility of the Body of Christ to take care of the Tabernacle (our church) and the minister through Tithes, Gifts and Love Offerings.

Which are three different things, but as I said we will talk more about that in another series.

The collectors of the tax asked Peter if Jesus paid the tax.

I guess they either respected or feared to ask Jesus for themselves.

When Peter went to ask Jesus about the Temple Tax, Jesus asked Peter a question.

Jesus asked:

Who do the Kings of the Earth collect tax from? Their own children, or from others?

Peter answered “others”

This was correct.

Jesus then says, “…the sons are exempt.”

Think about that for a moment.

Would a king give money to his children to survive, only to collect it back in tax?

That makes no sense.

They collect it from others to run the kingdom.

Jesus’ point was this.

Jesus is the Lord of the Temple, therefore He did not owe tax, and neither did the Apostles because they too served the Kingdom as priests.

Paying back what was DUE to them would make no sense.

But many would say, “But Pastor…we see that you tithe.”

True, and it’s because of the next verse.

In 27 Jesus continues:

“But so we may not offend them”

Jesus just said that He and the other preachers of the Word (Apostles) were exempt from the Temple Tax because they are the ones the Temple Tax was designed to take care of by God.

It was for the upkeep of the meeting place and the ministers.

Many do not understand the Word of God, and may again ‘judge’ if they see that during collection the Pastor doesn’t give, using that for excuse to relieve themselves from the responsibility that God has placed on the people to support the Church and the ministers.

So as not to offend…

So how does Jesus give the Temple Tax for Himself and for Peter?

Not from the tithes, offerings and love gifts that were given to them and their ministry.

He could have just said to the treasurer, “Judas, write this man a check…”

They did have a treasury.

But instead, Jesus always looking for an opportunity to teach said the following.

“Peter, throw your line in the water and the first fish you pull out will have a coin in his mouth, give it to them for our Tax.”

Why did Jesus do it this way?

Because He wanted to show that God is a Miraculous Provider to them who serve Him.

He wanted to show that God was paying the way for Jesus and Peter as ministers, preachers and teachers of the Word of God.

No man, save another who has given their lives to serve the Word of God can understand what it entails.

No man, but one who lives it, can understand the burden and responsibility that has been placed on them when they stand before this podium.

To be constantly judged by others for every word, movement, action, step.

To be responsible for the teaching and leading of each individual in the Body.

To feel joy at others breakthroughs, but pain when they fail.

To know that I am held to a HIGHER standard and accountability by the Word of God as a teacher of His Holy Word.

To sacrifice my life, my families lives, to devote my time to the learning, study, teaching, preaching, putting in all for others and sacrificing myself at the drop of a hat for others needs.

Yet, these same ones, give so little of their hearts to the Lord.

So little of their time.

So little of their efforts.

So little.

And expect so much from the Lord.

Mark 7:6

He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: " 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

Our outward actions are called fruits.

It is what we produce in our lives.

Our fruits show what is going on inside our hearts.

Jesus said good fruit can not come from a bad tree, and bad fruit can not come from a good tree.

What we say, think and do in our lives is a reflection of our hearts.

This is where judgment lies.

Is your heart right with the Lord today?

Have you submitted your life to the Lord today?

The scripture says, “Anyone who wants to follow me must lose his life, then he will find it.”

We must surrender our lives completely to the Lord, or we will not find eternal life.

The scriptures say so.

If you have not felt the power of God in your life lately, you may be in need of surrendering.

If you are feeling powerless, helpless, strained, wore down, weak, you need the power of God in your life, come forward for prayer.

As we close with our last song, reflect on your standing with he Lord, and ask if you are in relationship with Him, or opposition.

Are you standing firm, or have you truly surrendered all to him?

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