Matthew 17:24–27 (ESV)
The Temple Tax
they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first,
saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.
27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”
What is the “two-drachma tax” in verse 24? This is not a tax to the Roman government, but actually a Temple tax. It was assessed to all male adults
over the age of 20 years. This is only recorded by Matthew in the four Gospels, maybe because Matthew was a tax collector. This tax is mentioned in Exodus 30:12-14, 38:26, and 2 Chr. 24:26 and was for the purpose of maintaining the upkeep of the Temple.
Two drachmas were equivalent to about two days’ wages.
Now what was this with Jesus questioning if kings collect taxes from their sons or others? Kings did not tax their family, but
made everyone else pay the taxes. After drawing this to their attention, Jesus is alluding to the fact that the Temple belongs to his Father and he is God’s son… so he would be exempt under their standards. But not to give offense,
Jesus pays the Temple tax. He humbles himself all the way to even paying Temple taxes for his own Temple. Notice the money did not come out of his coffers, but from a fish. Jesus is far greater than the Temple tax.
I pray: Lord Jesus Christ, keep me humble in my words and actions, ever walking in Your ways. Amen.