Paying A Toll
Verse 17:25b “What do you think, Simon? ”He asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
Have you ever had a child block a pathway and tell you to "pay the toll"? Sometimes it is a kiss, or maybe a hug, but you pay it. In our day we are taxed for things as varying as taxes on our income to sales tax charged on the things we buy. In Jesus time things weren't much different. We often hear of the taxes from the Romans (we will discuss this more in a couple of days) but today we are looking more in depth at the temple tax.
This tax was instituted by Moses through God's instruction to the Israelites while still in the wilderness (Exodus 30:11-16). It was a set price, no matter your personal wealth or poverty, and was to be paid by all men 20 years of age or older. It was given for the care of the tabernacle and later the temple. It was an atonement tax, not that it was through paying it that they received atonement, but that through paying it, the Israelites would remember who God was and what He had done for them.
Jesus wasn't saying that it was a sin to pay the temple tax, if He had been saying that He wouldn't have provided for the coin. No, Jesus was pointing to what it was going to look like to be a child of God instead of His subjects. Jesus was on earth to show the spirit of the law which was to point to God and His holiness. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 12:50? "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus understood that the temple held the Most Holy Place where God met with them (Exodus 25:22) but that would soon be changing when the veil tore at Jesus' death (Matthew 27:51). That moment God opened the veil to His presence and set it for His children to be His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). As His children we don't have to live as mere subjects in His kingdom.
There are people that believe a tithe is a tax to go to church. Yes, tithes and offerings serve to manage the needs of a church building but they are so much more than that. We can't buy our salvation anymore than the Israelites could pay for atonement. Might it be that our views would change if we saw them not from the angle of owning the money in our hands but instead with the idea that we are giving as a reminder of all God, our Father, has done for us?
Making it personal
How do you view what you have? How do you view your tithe and offerings? Do you feel obligated to tithe or give from an understanding that He has given us so much that we can't help but give some back to Him to care for what He has given us as a congregation?
Making it personal kids
What do think the offerings at church are used for? What would church be like if we didn't have the things that the offerings are used to pay for?
Father, thank You for all that You do for us. You have given us so much. Father, all we have is Yours, help us not to forget that. In Jesus' name, amen.