Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 28: Year 1
“And when he [Simon Peter] came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?’ When Peter said, ‘From others’, Jesus said to him, ‘Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offence to them, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.” (Matthew 17: 25 to 27)
In my experience this passage is seldom used as sermon material. However there are layers of revelation here about who Jesus is.
First of all, Jesus, while not with Peter when he encountered the collectors of the temple tax, already knew what happened, just as he knew the experience of many before they came to him. Second, when he posits the question to Peter he already knew the answer. He knew that he and his followers were the “other,” from whom the king take their toll or tribute. Lastly, I always thought the fishermen of Jesus’ day fished with nets. But Jesus instructs him to use a hook, (no mention of bait) and upon bringing in a fish, examine its mouth and get the coin. This coin, Jesus says, will be paid for “you and me.”
We are the “other” of this Gospel lesson. We are not the children of the rulers of this world. We are the children of God. And God, even working through God’s own created nature will save us and provide what we need even without bait. We should live our lives always expecting divine intervention. Our Lord Jesus has paid the necessary price for you and for me. This certainly will preach.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John