Jesus is well into his earthly ministry and is teaching his disciples at every turn. Yes, he says, pay the taxes. No, he says don’t prevent anyone from operating in my name, even if they aren’t part of our group. Be careful he says that you are not the cause of stumbling for anyone else. And then comes the special request, look for the one that wandered away. Isn’t this why Jesus came, that we could be reconciled to the Father? Yes, this is the message, this is the work, this was the reason Jesus gave his life, so we could be forgiven. Then forgive, fix your relationships, extent mercy as it has been extended to you.
So That We Do Not Give Offense
As Jesus and the disciples are coming home to Capernaum in Matthew 17:24, “the ones who collected the double drachma tax came up to Peter”. This is the tax “corresponding to the Jewish “half-shekel,” payable, towards the maintenance of the temple and its services, by every male Jew of twenty years old and upward. For the origin of this annual tax, see Ex 30:13, 14; Ex 30:13, 14, 2 Ch 24:6, 9. Thus, it will be observed, it was not a civil, but an ecclesiastical tax. The tax mentioned in Mt 17:25 was a civil one.1
But because of their special position, the priests and the Levites had no land of their own, they were recipients of the offerings and “Rabbis were exempt from paying this tax … would Jesus claim a similar exemption? … collections were made in other areas of Palestine and abroad a month earlier. This incident therefore takes place about a month before Passover.2
Jesus did not claim any exemption from this annual ecclesiastical tax for the temple but we know from Jesus response to Peter in Matthew 17:25 “Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect tolls or taxes—from their own sons, or from foreigners?” that there was also a civil tax that was now the subject of discussion.
But there is a different mindset about taxes than we have today. For us, everyone pays their share of the cost of our military which keeps us safe and our judicial system which keeps us honest and infrastructure that allows free commerce. Well I could go on, but the point is that in the time of the Roman empire, every conquered people paid a tax, the civil tax, to the Roman government. So, in Matthew 17:25-27 when Jesus asked ” From whom do the kings of the earth collect tolls or taxes” Peter answered “From foreigners” and “Jesus said to him, ‘Then the sons are free'”. Jesus said, the children of the ruling empire don’t pay the tax. It was a different mindset. The children of foreigners paid. This is how empires were built. Jesus wasn’t interested n making an issue of this and sends Peter to find the money they needed “so that we do not give offence”.
Whoever is Not Against Us
We Tried to Prevent Him
The power of God was being manifested, a demons were being expelled in Jesus name and in Mark 9:38 John says to Jesus, “we tried to prevent him”. Why would John think that? Because he thought like we often do, that we are the only ones with a revelation of God’s kingdom power. Jesus corrects John in
Mark 9:39–40 (LEB) But Jesus said, “Do not prevent him, because there is no one who does a miracle in my name and will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us.
Then Jesus goes further and says in
Mark 9:41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in my name because you are Christ’s, truly I say to you that he will never lose his reward.
Did you know there was an eternal reward for service to others? Giving a cup of water is the simplest thing, but doesn’t go unnoticed by God. It doesn’t cost you anything to give someone a drink, well it didn’t in Jesus day. It is the act of kindness done in his name for his servants. And if a cup of water is rewarded, what about providing food or shelter or funding for missions work? What can you do, in the name of the Lord?
He Does Not Follow in Company With Us
John expresses a true human emotion in Luke 9:49 “he does not follow in company with us”, he is not part of our group, he has not been through our training, … And, the natural reaction is, “we tried to prevent him”. But wasn’t he demonstrating the power of God by expelling demons? Of course he was. In our natural mind, we want everyone to be like us, to act like us, to believe like us, but look at the world around you. God has created great diversity, it is spring time as I am writing and the roses just bloomed, red and yellow, and pink. All of them beautiful roses.
Those Who Cause Others To Sin
These Little Ones Who Believe In Me
Jesus has just told his disciples there is a reward for doing good and he uses this conversation to talk about doing evil. In Mark 9:42 he says “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin” and in Mark 9:42-50 he recounts the result, “thrown into the sea”, “into the unquenchable fire”, “thrown into hell” and he ends with “everyone will be salted with fire”. What actions have we taken that caused another to stumble? God forgive us. When people think about us, do they glorify God because of our righteous actions or do they mourn because of sinful hurt we have caused them? God help us to be aware, to be wise, to be strong enough to do what is right.
Causes for Stumbling Come
Jesus says in Matthew 18:7 “it is a necessity that causes for stumbling come”. He doesn’t say why here, but we can recognize from Galatians 5:19-21 “the deeds of the flesh” and remember from Galatians 5:22-23 “the fruit of the spirit”.
The Lost Sheep
Look For the One That Wandered Away
Jesus had called a child to stand in their midst in Matthew 18:2 and it isn’t clear that there was a crowd around, but there must have been other children around because he says in
Matthew 18:10 (LEB) “See to it that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven constantly see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
Think about this for a minute. He points to children around him and says, “their angels in heaven constantly see the face of my father”. Every one of them has a guardian angel. Every angel reports directly to the Father. Every slight, abuse, cause for disappointment and tears is known to the Father. And we are accountable to Him. Did you ever think about God’s influence in the lives of men? Do you remember what Jesus said to Saul in Acts 26:14 “why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads!’. Our actions are known in heaven and we are prodded to go the right way.
How Many Times Will My Brother Sin
We all want life to be fair. We want to hold people accountable for their actions, especially when they hurt us. So, in Matthew 18:21 Peter asks “how many times will my brother sin against me and I will forgive him?” and Peter offers what he thinks is reasonable, “Up to seven times?”. And you probably know this response in
Matthew 18:22 (LEB) Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven!
We need to get our thinking right. It isn’t about how many times they sin. It is about the power of reconciliation given to us by Jesus Christ.
Should You Not Also Have Shown Mercy
Jesus died, was crucified, his blood paid the price for our sin. Are you going to hold up your brothers sin for recompense when God forgave you of your sin? If you really want justice, God can give you that. Hold your brother accountable and God will do just that for you.
Matthew 18:34–35 (LEB) And because he was angry, his master handed him over to the merciless jailers until he would repay everything that was owed. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from your hearts!”
- Matthew 17:24–27 So That We Do Not Give Offense
- Mark 9:38–41 We Tried to Prevent Him
- Mark 9:42–50 These Little Ones Who Believe In Me
- Matthew 18:10–14 Look For the One That Wandered Away
- Mark 9:38-50
- Matthew 17:24-27
- Matthew 18:6-35
- Luke 9:49-50
The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – The Gospels
This series follows the order of readings from the Tyndale One Year Chronological Bible. Covering these events chronologically as they happened, gives a much different context and helps us understand the move of God as He is introducing the Saviour, the Light of the world, Jesus Christ. This series begins with Return To Me And I Will Return To You at the end of Malachi and introduces the “Witnesses” writing the Gospels.
is helping Jewish people return to their homeland. You might fund one that desires to go home. http://operationexodususa.org/Overview
- 1. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 49). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- 2. France, R. T. (1985). Matthew: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 1, p. 271). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.