Good Monday Morning to this week 10 of 2019
A mother wants to make a picture of her four children all standing in one row. She asks them to stand in line. They obey, choose the option, from the biggest to the smallest, then from the oldest to the youngest. The mother slowly gets impatient, when then one of the four kids, good at maths, gives her the answer to the many changes. You know Mum, for the first position on the far left there are 4 possibilities, then there are 3 options left for the position to the right. If these two positions are done, there are only 2 options left for the third position from the left. One child finally remains for the far right. In total there are 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 equals 24 different possibilities.
24 possibilities for one simple photo!!
These months in Switzerland are significant for many of us regarding consulting and finances. By the 15th of March, our tax forms have to be rendered to the fiscal authority so they can calculate our income tax. In this time there is much maths being applied, much “lining up of numbers” and many doing a review of their finances and wondering what to declare and what not!
This reminds me of the in Matthew 17: 24-27
And when they had come to Capernaum, those who collected the two drachma tax came to Peter, and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two drachma tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” And upon his saying, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Consequently the sons are exempt. But lest we give them offense, go to the sea, and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and me”.
Now, a stater is equivalent to four drachmas. Therefore, the passage is saying, that:
(2 drachmas/person) x (2 persons) = 4 drachmas, or more simply still,
2 x 2 = 4.
There are many interpretations to this story of Jesus and Peter the taxes.
Adult Jewish males throughout the Empire paid an annual two-drachma tax, based on Exodus 30:13-16, for the upkeep of the Jerusalem temple. Even in Matthew’s day, after the temple was destroyed, this tax remained important: after 70, the Romans required all Jewish people to pay that tax to the Roman government. For the sake of maintaining public identification with their Jewish heritage, Jewish Christians should join non-Christian Jews in paying the tax.
One principle is that we are to upholding society’s requirements as citizens of the communities where God has placed us. Jesus cares about our social obligations.
Jesus did not regard the poll tax as binding on himself or Peter, but recognizes that the tax collectors do. Head or poll taxes normally listed specific exceptions who would not have to pay. Conquerors subjected conquered peoples, not their own subjects, to taxation. Priests were exempt from the two-drachma tax cited here so in later times were also rabbis. Are we therefore to surrendering “rights” for the sake of the gospel?
Jesus supplies these needs as well as other needs.
The four-drachma coin probably is a Tyrian stater, precisely enough to pay two persons’ temple amount. Following an old Greek story, some Jewish stories of uncertain date speak of God blessing pious people by leading them to find precious objects in fish. If Peter knew of such stories, the moral of Jesus’ causing him to find money in a fish would not be lost on him. This is irony of a sort: the King’s children can pay the tax because the King gives them the money to do so. Jesus can take care of his people who walk close to him.
Paying taxes, therefore, could be seen as a spiritual expression. Since the King gives us the money to manage, as his children we manage it well and pay the taxes to the earthy to the king knowing that the heavenly King is taking care of us!
A short disclaimer for those of you living under dictators or corrupt regimes: “I know that for many of you the “rulers” are far from just and exploit the land and those paying the taxes. Many questions of these situations are not considered here in this short text! For this we’d need to look deeper into the question of when Jesus calls us to go against the rulers of the time in a nonviolent way, as he also did so at various times.”
I wish you a good week and wish you His blessings in all the decisions you make, also the financial ones, for example how you pay your bills or what you write on your tax declarations!