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Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” Matthew 17:27
Jesus trusted in the miraculous provision of God. It’s not everyday – or any day – that someone catches a fish and takes a coin out of its mouth. But Jesus used God’s provision to pay His taxes.

"What is the temple tax?"

Answer: The temple tax not a tithe but (Tax) was required of Jewish males over age 20, and the money was used for the upkeep and maintenance of the temple. In Exodus 30:13–16, God told Moses to collect this tax at the time of the census taken in the wilderness. In 2 Kings 12:5–17 and Nehemiah 10:32–33, it seems the temple tax was paid annually, not just during a census. This half-shekel tax wasn’t a large sum of money, but roughly equivalent to two days’ wages. According to the tractate Shekalim in the Talmud, the temple tax was collected during one of the these Jewish festivals: Passover, Pentecost, or Tabernacles.

Even though Jesus, as the Son of God, and His disciples were exempt from paying the temple tax, they would pay the tax in order to not offend the Jewish leaders (Matthew 17:27). From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers? Peter gave the quick and natural answer to this question. But then Jesus explained that He is not liable to pay this tax, because the Father doesn’t require it of His own Son.

 Jesus then instructs Peter to throw out a fishing line, which would result in a catch. When Peter opened the fish’s mouth, he found a coin that happened to be the correct amount for the temple tax for him and Jesus. How this money came into the mouth of the fish is a very idle dispute, considering that he that speaks was the Creator of all things.

Jesus used the question about the temple tax to teach a lesson. Christians are free, but they must sometimes relinquish their rights in order to uphold their witness and not cause others to stumble. True freedom is not serving ourselves but others (see Galatians 5:13).

Jesus, who did not actually owe the price, paid it nevertheless – and at the same time, with the same price, paid for Peter as well.

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