Scripture to reflect upon for Truth Tuesday: Matthew 17:27
“But so we won’t offend then, go to the sea, cast in a fishhook, and take the first fish that you catch. When you open its mouth you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to them for Me and you.”
Don’t you love when someone asks you to meet them out for coffee, or lunch and they surprisingly say when the bill arrives, “I’ve got that”? Here you are, fully expecting to pay your half and your friend covers your bill. You didn’t ask. You didn’t fuss. Your friend just simply offered. Wow!
The story leading up to this scripture is about Peter being confronted by the temple leaders demanding Jesus’ religious tax. (In spring, men were required to pay a religion tax to provide temple sacrifices.) These particular tax collectors decided not to confront Jesus about the tax, but rather Peter.
I recently read somewhere—I can’t remember where—that Jesus was probably having fun with Peter in what he asked him to do. I mean, come on, doesn’t this sound silly? Catch a fish, open its mouth and there you’ll find exactly what we need to pay our bill. He might as well have pulled it out from behind his ear. This is one of those stories in the bible when you really wish you heard more from Peter. “Say what, Jesus!? Are you serious with this?” It’s all too funny, actually. Just another insight into Jesus’ character.
I’m reading a book called, Jesus, by Leith Anderson, and he writes the last part of this scripture like this: “Take the coin and give it to them to pay my tax and yours.” First of all, here’s God in the flesh paying taxes—lets not overlook that part of the story. Especially when we consider what Jesus asked of Peter before that. He asked Peter who he thought the Pharisees would ask first for back taxes: their own children, or others? So Jesus knows they are being scammed, and He knows it’s unjust, but he still insists on following the law as it is asked of Him as to "not offend" them.
Looking beyond that, I envision this encounter with Jesus as such a gracious act of generosity. Jesus basically told Peter, “I’ve got you covered. Don’t worry about your half. I've got yours and mine covered!” In my head, I was immediately taken to a restaurant, sitting in a booth eating a burger with Jesus, enjoying the meal and company, fully expecting to split the bill. But I forgot. I’m with Jesus, where He always covers me, no matter where I go. And it was such an amazing gesture of a wonderful, thoughtful, generous friend who wants to bless me.
When people offer to pay our portion of the bill, we always hem and haw, “No, no. Please let me…” And you sit and squabble over a few bucks for a meal or coffee until one of you gives in and the other pays the bill. We don’t need to squabble with Jesus. And think about it. All those times Peter stepped out defensively, trying to prevent Jesus from doing things for him. In this story, Peter doesn’t respond. He doesn’t hesitate to take the offer.
Even when we feel awkward receiving such a thoughtful offer from a friend, we still walk away feeling immensely blessed. We hug our friend goodbye and leave with a smile…and a few extra bucks in our pocket we hadn’t expected to have. We feel so lucky to have such a great friend. Well, it’s no different with Jesus.
NOTE TO SELF: Jesus is our best friend, too. And He is always finding ways to say, “I’ve got that…”