When my son was in first grade, he was reading a few grade levels higher than the class. The first grade teacher mentioned that he seemed bored during the time in the class when they were working on phonics. When I asked her if maybe he should work on something else reading related during that time, her response was, "Oh, no! Everyone always can use a review in phonics!" So, I asked her if he needed more phonics instruction and she admitted that his ability to phonetically decode the words was well above grade level. But she also insisted that he needed to do what the rest of the class was doing. Keep in mind that I understand classroom dynamics and it truly keeps everyone better behaved when everyone is working on the same thing. So, I understood what she was saying. But, I also know that other teachers paired him up with a struggling student so he was still engaged with what the class was doing but being challenged by helping a peer. Either way, she was the teacher, and my son needed to respect her and do what she wanted him to do. The verses I am reading show us a time when Jesus really didn't need to do what He was asked to do, but He also decided that it was better to participate and do what He had been asked to do. Please click on the link and read Matthew 17:22-27.
There are two sections of scriptures that seem unrelated. First we read that Jesus predicts His death and resurrection and we read that the disciples were grieved by that news. The next verses show us that Jesus was asked to pay the temple tax. I just want to consider a little bigger picture of how both of these sections of verses may have a bigger relationship. First, I want to point out that the collectors didn't actually ask Jesus to pay, they approached Peter and asked him if Jesus was going to pay the tax. The interesting thing about this tax is that it was a modest tax taken for the temple according to Exodus 30:12, where God told them to take a "ransom for the soul" every time a census was taken. Jesus pointed out to Peter that He really didn't need to pay a "ransom for the soul" but paid it any way because it wasn't worth the offense it could cause. He then gave Peter a little fun in finding a coin to pay the tax for both Jesus and Peter.
Are you beginning to see a little bit of relationship between the two sections of verses? The disciples are reminded by Jesus of His death and resurrection which we now understand was a sacrifice and victory He shared with us. Jesus was perfect and didn't require to pay a ransom for Himself - He had no sin. Yet, even with His perfection He allowed Himself to be abused and killed in order to pay our ransom and then rise from death three days later in order share His victory over death! The One who didn't need to pay a ransom was soon going to pay the ransom for all of us, yet He was asked to pay the temple tax - the "ransom for the soul." The irony is amazing, yet it also shows us His humility. Instead of declaring the irony of the situation and claiming that He didn't need to pay this tax, He humbly said that it was better to not cause an offense. But notice how He was also the One who provided for Peter's ransom as well. How beautiful is that?
Jesus gave us such an incredible example of humility in these verses. He knew that people wouldn't understand that it was ridiculous for Him to pay this tax. In fact, by this point in time, I wonder if the tax collectors understood the point behind the tax. Jesus set aside what was His "right" to not have to pay the tax and just paid the tax. We often pride ourselves on our human rights, so sometimes we miss out on the reality that humility means being willing to sacrifice what we feel is our rights at time. Sometimes it is much better just to set aside what we feel is our right and show respect to another human being. Even if we know that it is silly, sometimes it just isn't worth causing offense to someone else. It is through Christ working in our hearts that we are able to do this.
What "right" do you need to set aside in order to show respect to someone else?
This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.