Jesus and the Temple Tax

fishing for the temple tax

Jesus and the Temple Tax

“What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?”  . . . Peter said, “From strangers,” Then Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.”

Matthew 17:25

Dear Family & Friends

In recent years Airbnbs have become a big thing. People rent out a room in their home or a house they own to travelers who are vacationing or just passing through. These guests pay a fee for enjoying their stay in the facility. But can you imagine if the Airbnb owner decided to charge his or her children to live in the home?

Jesus, the Son of God

Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth as a tiny baby. Although He took on flesh and was fully human, He was also fully God. On one occasion while visiting the town of Capernaum, a tax collector approached Peter and asked if Jesus paid the two-drachma tax. This tax was the Jewish temple tax levied on all male Jews over the age of twenty years old that funded the maintenance of the temple and was regarded as given directly to God.

Flustered, Peter answered, “Yes,” and then entered the house where Jesus used the interaction with the tax collector as an opportunity for further conversation about His identity.  “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?”

Peter answered with the obvious – “strangers.” Pressing a little more to help Peter recall his previous declaration of faith in Jesus’ identity He clarified, “Then the sons are exempt.” If Jesus paid this tax, as the Son of God and King of Heaven, He would in a sense be paying the tribute to Himself.

Yet to avoid offense Jesus instructed Peter to go to the sea, throw out a hook and line, and open the mouth of the first fish he caught. Inside he would find the coin needed to pay the tax for both of them.

Jesus’ Omniscience

This incident likely caught Matthew’s attention as he was formerly a tax collector, and the telling of it provided even more proof of Jesus’ divinity. First, when Peter entered the house after the interaction with the tax collector Jesus already knew what had been said and started the conversation with His disciple.

Nature Subject to the King Provides the Temple Tax

Second, in predicting the coin inside the fish Jesus showed Himself to have authority over the created world. As one commentator put it, “He deliberately paid the tax in a way that would show that the realm of nature was tributary to Him.”

We would never think of requiring a child to pay to live in his parent’s house or rent out a room like an Airbnb, but it’s even more mind-boggling to think of the Creator of the universe paying taxes within the realms of His own creation. Yet, Jesus, the Son of God, humbled Himself, not only to pay the temple tax, but to come down to the earth from His palace above in the first place.

All of this He did because He loves us!



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  1. jeanne elizabeth lipsi on May 17, 2024 at 10:07 AM

    Very good Sandy! “Pay unto Caeser…” Mt 22:21 – Thank you for your reminders! God bless

    • Sandra Sheridan on May 19, 2024 at 6:47 AM

      Thanks for your encouragement, Jeanne!

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Hi, I'm Sandy! 

I write inspirational letters based on the Bible that share words of hope, encouragement, truth, and healing to my children and anyone else who longs for a mama's touch.


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