<< Matthew XVII: The Tribute Money >>
ONCE more the Lord came to Capernaum, on the shore where He had spent so many days with the disciples, and where they had seen so many signs of His power. It was the time for collecting the yearly offering of a half-shekel (a silver coin about equal to a quarter-dollar) for the support of the temple at Jerusalem. Long ago at Mount Sinai, it had been commanded that whenever there was a numbering of the people, every one of twenty years old or more should pay a ransom of a half-shekel to the Lord. It meant that in counting their strength they must confess that it was the Lord’s. In the Gospel time half-shekels were gathered every year.
So they came to Peter at Capernaum, asking,”Doth not your Master pay tribute?” Should the Lord pay tribute to His own temple! In a sense He could not do it. Yet while He lived as a man among men, what was human in Him must serve what was Divine.The tribute should be paid.
The Lord sent the fish to Peter with the money in his mouth; His care is over all the fishes and every creature that He has made. The Lord tells us in another place that he cares for the flowers, for every little bird, for each hair of our heads. How wonderful! ‘There is not a blade of grass, nor a leaf on any tree, nor any little insect in a far away and lonely place, which the Lord does not know and care for. It could not live a minute if He should forget it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.—Matthew. XVII. 24-27.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
The sea >> Natural life, knowledge and interests
The fish >> The love of natural things
The tribute in the fish’s mouth >> The acknowledgment of the Lord in each natural interest and possession, and its service to the Lord and spiritual life
Even the Lord paid this tribute >> During His life on earth He made everything of His human nature serve the Divine
The one piece of money which paid the tribute for Peter and the Lord >> Beautiful suggestion of the Lord’s companionship and help to us in this duty
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum