Matthew 17:24-27 (v. 24) “And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?”
Those whose job it was to collect the tax (having a beef with the Lord) took their complaint to Peter.
Was there something about the Lord’s person that made them afraid to confront him to his face?
Was Peter the kind of guy who seemed easy to talk to, or maybe the type not to resist in a direct confrontation?
The real issue here is not that Peter neglected to pay the tribute, but that his “master” did not do so.
The implication is right in front of us that the Lord thus far did not in fact pay the tribute.
Why is tribute being required under this circumstance?
Should the “the King of kings, and Lord of lords” over all the earth be expected to pay tribute to anyone?
Would such a King and Lord have to pay tribute to anyone?
Would there be any way to make the Lord pay tribute, if he didn’t want to?
(v. 25) “He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?”
Peter does like he always does: he just blurts out the answer he thinks is right without considering what all might be involved in the circumstances. “He saith, Yes.”
The Lord obviously does not agree with Peter concerning his answer to the collectors.
When the Lord confronts Peter with his apparent indiscretion, he does not do so in front of the tax collectors, but waits until they are “come into the house”.
The Lord is the perfection of style and grace. He has real class.
This issue is important enough that the Lord stops everything and deals with it at the time.
The Lord is a master teacher, getting Peter to think rightly, by asking him a question that forces him to consider the pertinent issues. “What thinkest thou, Simon?”
(v. 26) “Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.”
Peter is not a bit stupid: when guided to the appropriate issues he can easily see the right answer. “Peter saith unto him, Of strangers.”
Based on Peter’s right answer to the Lord’s question, the Lord provides doctrine in conclusion: “Then are the children free.”
(v. 27) “Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.”
Although the previous issues were important, they are “Notwithstanding” in relation to the issue apparently overriding them all: “lest we should offend them. . . .”
QUESTION: Who are these people at Capernaum that it is so important not to “offend them”?
QUESTION: Is Capernaum an especially important or Godly place that the Lord consented to pay the tribute?
ANSWER: No! This place is lower than Sodom! (See: Matthew 11:23)
Matthew 11:23 “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”
The issue is not Capernaum, it is the Lord’s word and ministry.
Isaiah 42:3 “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.”
QUESTION: Is the prophecy here meant to be understood that the Lord will literally not bruise “a reed”, or that the Lord will not offend men for the sake of his ministry in bringing them to all “judgment” and “truth”?
The Lord sends Peter on a fishing trip to perform a notable miracle: “go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.”
Consider the extent of the Lord’s power in this act of obtaining a “piece of money”.
Everything being said in regard to what was wrong with the whole picture AND Peter’s answer, the Lord is going to pay the tribute anyway!
Last, but not least, consider this, that between the two of them (The Lord of the universe and his servant with him) they were both completely penniless, and it didn’t matter.