The mother of four young children was running errands on a Saturday. She had groceries to buy, dry cleaning to pick up, and a long “to-do” list to tackle. After a couple of hours, the troops became restless. Two were fighting. Two were crying. In between traffic lights, she was trying her best to placate everyone. Then it hit her: the kids are hungry. We’ll get some lunch, and then we can finish our errands.
She drove into Wendy’s with one mission in mind: to feed her children. She ordered “fun meals” all around, drove to the window, and picked up the food. Before she was back on the freeway, one of the children began to wail. “I didn’t get a burger! There’s no burger in here!” Mom quickly retraced her route, wheeled up to the fast food restaurant, and marched inside with her incomplete fun meal in its Wendy’s bag. “My girl didn’t get a burger when we came through the drive-through just now. Put a burger in this bag, please.” The girl behind the counter just stood there and stared. “Maybe you didn’t hear me,” the mother said, more firmly this time. “I need one more burger. Put it in the bag and hurry—I’ve got four hungry kids in the car.” No response. The mother’s patience was almost gone, and her choleric personality kicked in: “I said, I need another burger. Put it in this bag RIGHT NOW!” Without saying a word, the young lady at the counter reached back, got a hamburger, and dropped it in the bag. “Thank you very much,” the mom said sarcastically, and she turned and walked out of… McDonald’s.
It is amazing what can be accomplished with a clear cut sense of purpose! I know of no one who ever rivaled Jesus Christ for a sense of purpose. He came for one reason, and one reason only…and He never lost sight of His mission. Those who hindered Him, even friends, soon understood that His focus was unwavering and strong.
In Matthew 17:22-27, Jesus talked about His purpose. He told His disciples that He would be betrayed and killed, but that He would also rise again. The disciples didn’t understand this for three main reasons:
- They were strongly attached to Him, and they were sorry that He would soon leave them.
- They weren’t willing to believe it.
- They couldn’t see how He could be the Messiah and yet be put to death in this manner.
When Jesus and the disciples reached Capernaum, they were asked by the Pharisees to pay the temple tax. The temple tax was a fee given each year by every adult Jewish male to maintain the temple, based on the instructions of Exodus 30:11-16. Jesus replied that “kings do not tax their own sons. This tribute money is taken up for the service of my Father. I, therefore, being the Son of God, for whom this is taken up, cannot be lawfully required to pay this tribute.”
The disagreement between Jesus and the Pharisees was really a conflict between the kingdom and will of God (as represented by Jesus) and the evil nature of mankind. Jesus didn’t fit the mold of the Pharisees’ religious system. They saw Jesus as a threat that had to be eliminated. By eliminating this threat, the Pharisees unknowingly helped Jesus fulfill His purpose.
Jesus, as the Son of God, was not bound by human regulations; nevertheless, to avoid offense, He appointed Peter to fish for the money to pay the tax. This is similar to the incident recorded in Matthew 22:17-21, and both events are reminders that Christians should support those in authority as mentioned in Romans 13:1-7.
The fact that the money to pay the temple tax was found in the mouth of a fish is proof that Jesus had divine characteristics. If He knew that the first fish that came up would have such a coin in its mouth, it was proof that Jesus was all-knowing. It is by no means absurd that a fish could have swallowed a silver coin. Many fish bite eagerly at anything bright and would not hesitate ot swallow a coin. If Jesus created the coin for the occasion and placed it there, then it was proof that He had divine power.
Now that we are children of God, the Holy Spirit lives in us, causing us to love and serve our neighbours-even when we don’t have to. We are part of the new kingdom that Jesus created. We answer to Jesus our King. The relationship with God was superior to the relationship to the temple, and God as sovereign King and Lord over the temple does not exact payment from His Son or the sons of the kingdom, with one exception. He exacted payment from Jesus for our sins, and that payment was Jesus’ death on the cross.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p.1313)
- Barnes’ Notes on the New testament. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
- Augsberger, M.S. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 24: Matthew (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; p. 18)
- Pastor Ken Klaus, “Pay Your Taxes?” Retrieved from www.lhm.org
- Dr. Ed Young, “The Power of a Clear-Cut Sense of Purpose.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org