Sermon # 46 Series: Matthew
Title: “LEST WE SHOULD
Text: Matthew 17:22-27
Subject: Lessons from the Temple Tax
Date: Tuesday Evening – May 30, 1995
During the last six months of his public ministry, our Lord spent less and less time with the multitudes and more and more time in private with his disciples. During these last six months, he constantly gave them intense, careful instruction both about his betrayal, death, and resurrection for the redemption of our souls and about the principles of his kingdom, the principles of grace, faith, and love by which we are to live in this world for the glory of his name and the advancement of his kingdom. Some of these momentous final words and the events surrounding them are recorded by all four gospel writers. But some were recorded only by one. Matthew 17:22-27 describes an event and a word of instruction recorded by Matthew alone. Let’s read it together – Matthew 17:22-27.
Proposition: This is the thing I want you to see in this passage – God our Savior is also God our Provider – His name is Jehovah-jirah – Gen. 22:14). – Let me show you five things from this passage that I trust will be blessed of God to your hearts.
I. The first thing that demands our attention is Christ’s Determination To Suffer and Die For Us (vv. 22-23).
Our Lord’s heart was focused upon his death from eternity. He came into the world to suffer and die for his people. And every step he took moved him with predetermined pace to the appointed place and appointed hour when he would lay down his life for the people he loved from everlasting and had come to save.
A. He told his disciples, now for the third time, how that he must go to Jerusalem, be betrayed into the hands of men and die.
Our Savior was not the helpless victim of circumstances beyond his control. He voluntarily laid down his life for his sheep (John 10:17-18), and did so by the will, purpose, and determinate counsel of God the Father (Acts 2:23). But let it never be forgotten that the Lord of Glory was betrayed and slain by the hands of wicked men!
1. Nothing would satisfy the rage of men against him but his blood – “Give us his blood!”
2. Yet, nothing could satisfy the wrath and justice of God but his blood – “Give me his blood!” (Heb. 9:22).
NOTE: As our Savior kept his death in the forefront of all his teachings so too must his servants - “We preach Christ crucified!”
B. Then, our Lord assured the disciples that he would, according to the type and prophecy of Old Testament, rise from the dead on the third day.
C. “And (The Disciples) Were Exceeding Sorry.”
Many excuses are offered by which to make less of this than the Holy Spirit does. Some say they sorrowed because they loved the Savior. No doubt that is true. Others say they sorrowed because they were confused and did not understand his doctrine. That too is certainly true. But the Holy Spirit tells us, by Mark, that they sorrowed because of their ignorance (Mark 9:32). And their ignorance was rooted in a lack of faith.
Christ’s death was – For the Glory of God! – By The Will of God! – According to the Purpose of God! – The Means of their Ransom! – The Revelation of God’s Glory! – The Savior’s Path To Glory, Joy, and Everlasting Dominion! – The Redemption of Their Souls and Ours! But they were exceeding sorry! “Why?” Because they had counted on an earthly kingdom, with earthly joys, and earthly honors!
II. Next, I must give some explanation of the Dispute and Controversy Over The Jewish Temple Tax (vv. 24-25).
This is an issue discussed by none of the other inspired writers. Matthew, who was himself a tax-collector, is the only one who mentions it. But the tribute money here, the tax being discussed was not a tax imposed by Caesar or a political government. That is discussed later on (Matt. 22:17). This tribute money was a temple tax, which the Roman government allowed the Jews to collect. It was a Jewish custom.
Originally, it was based upon God’s law. It was the ransom money that every man was to pay for the maintenance of the tabernacle and temple sanctuary.
From the payment of this redemption money there was no exemption. But it was not a tax levied every year. It was a free gift made by every man whomever the children of Israel were numbered – Not tribute” money but “ransom” money! I will talk about that in a few minutes.
But the Jews, by custom, had made the ordinance of God a fashionable, annual ceremony, imposed upon and expected of all professedly religious people. It was a matter of custom which they practiced, as usual, with great show.
Consequently, when they asked Peter, “Doth not your master pay tribute? “He answered, without hesitancy, though he didn’t really know for sure – “Yes!” Of course he does!
III. That brings us to the third thing in our text, which is The Marvellous Demonstration of Our Savior’s Divine Majesty – (vv. 25-27).
In these verses we see a clear, instructive demonstration of his omnipotence as God. These two divine attributes are full of instruction, very practical instruction.
A. Write this down and put it somewhere where you will often see it and be reminded of it – The Lord Jesus Christ, Our God and Savior, Knows Everything That Is Thought, Said, and Done In This World. (v. 25).
When Peter came into the house, apparently to discuss this matter with the Savior, he “prevented him.” He showed Peter that he had heard every word of his conversation with the tax collectors from the temple.
A more solemn realization cannot be imagined – Hypocrisy is useless! Concealment is impossible! Christ sees everything, hears everything, and knows everything!
We live in the immediate presence of God! We will be wise always to realize that fact. “Let us measure every difficult question as to right and wrong by one simple test. ‘How would I behave if Jesus was standing by my side?’ Such a standard is not extravagant and absurd. It is a standard that interferes with no duty or relation of life: it interferes with nothing but sin!” (J.C. Ryle).
B. As he is omniscient (all-knowing), so too Our Savior is Omnipotent (All-Powerful).
This is demonstrated by his power over all creation – The coin in the fish’s mouth – The first fish caught.
1. Our God will provide for his own – We may safely serve him and confidently trust him.
2. God will provide our needs through the instrumentality he has appointed.
IV. Thirdly, I want us to see that – Our Savior, our Master Demonstrated a Great Willingness To Make Concession In Matters of Indifference, Rather Than, Give Offence (vv. 25-27).
A. First, He showed Peter that Neither He Nor Peter Were Under Obligation to Pay The Customary Tribute – (vv. 24-26) – “Then are the Children free!”
1. He was free because he is the Son of God.
2. His disciples were free because in him they were (and are) the sons of God!
B. Then, The Master Gave A Lesson That Needs To Be Often Repeated About Matters of Indifference.
It was his right not to pay the tribute. But rather than cause needless offence – “Lest we should offend them” – He said to Peter – Go get the money and pay the tribute.
NOTE: We must never give up God’s rights. But we must always be willing and quick to give up our own! If we have a fight, make sure it is worth while! Remember this principle –
· In Society! “A Christian ought never to disturb the public peach for things of more temporary importance.” Bullinger
V. Lastly, I want you to see that There Are Beautiful Blessed Spiritual Lessons Sleeping Beneath The Surface of These Words.
Let me just call your attention to some of the things I see in this passage – Three Things:
A. The Glorious Independence and Freedom of Our Savior.
B. Christ’s Willingness to come Under Tribute For Our Sakes.
C. The Clearing of Christ And His People By One Payment, A Payment Which He Provided. Note: This was Ransom Money!
NOTICE: There were not two coins in the fish’s mouth, one for Peter and one for Jesus. There was one piece of money which made payment for both Peter and The Savior – What a picture of our complete union with Christ in redemption!
1. Our debt became his.
2. His payment was and is ours.
3. By his one sacrifice both the Surety and those for whom he died must go free!
Application: In all things Seek the Glory of God.
1. Live in The Awareness of His Presence.
2. Live to Honor His Name.
3. Seek to Help Others by Your Behavior.
4. Mold Your Life to Christ’s Example.