Daily Devotion for February 1, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Satuday is Oldies Day, and we have a real treat: Go Down Moses sung by Doris Akers, backed by her Sky Pilot Choir
For a Sense of Wonder at God's Creation
Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Delight me to see how your Christ plays in ten thousand places, in limbs and eyes not His, to be the father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.
Prayer for Renewal
O Heavenly Father, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant me so to die daily to sin, that I may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection. Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
[Let us close our eyes for a minute and meditate on what it means for us to “die to sin”.]
Teach me Your Way
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; Unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify your name forever more. Great is your mercy toward me, and You have delivered my soul from the depths of hell. All praise be to You, Oh God my Redeemer, today and forever.
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)
I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Matthew 17:24-27 (NKJV)
Peter and His Master Pay Their Taxes
When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.”
And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.”
Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”
Notes on the Scripture
The New Testament has two passages about taxes. The more famous, “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's,” which we will encounter in Matthew 22, concerns taxes levied by Rome. The tax here is one levied by God, a half-shekelRoughly two days' wages for an unskilled laborer. In Greek coin, this would equal two drachmas. tax paid annually, which was originated in Exodus 30:13. It supported the extensive expenses of the temple/tabernacle. It was a Jewish tax overseen by the Sanhedrin, not a Roman tax.
The meaning of “sons” and “strangers” is imprecise, since “strangers” could designate a group as wide as “people not in the king's family”. An apparently valid and meaningful interpretation is that Jesus, being the Son of God, does not owe the tax.
More generally, Jesus seems to include Peter among the sons who are not obligated to pay the tax. There is a new temple — the body of Christ — and thus the temple tax has been superseded by his coming. (And in fact, the temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed in 70 A.D. by Roman soldiers, never to be rebuilt.) The law has been fulfilled by his incarnation; or, one might say, it has been modified into voluntary contributions for support of the church.
The clear point of the story comes when Jesus pays the tax anyway, so that He will not offend the Jewish authorities. Again, “offend” is a bit vague. The literal meaning of Jesus' words is “lest we cause them to stumbleEven more literally, the word translated “offend” means to put something in a path that people will trip over..” He certainly does not shrink from offending them! But the point is this: money is so unimportant to Him that He does not want anyone to find it more difficult to hear his message, over a matter of money. He will pay the tax without complaint, even though He does not owe it, for the good of the Jews.
We see this message reiterated by Paul in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, when he advises those who do not believe in dietary restrictions (or other unimportant matters) to adopt the dietary restrictions of others, when eating with them.
The bit about finding the tax in the mouth of a fish is not given any clear meaning by the text. Some scholars believe that, since Peter was a fisherman, it represents his labor. Since a fish will become widely accepted as a symbol of Christ, one might become even more speculative and say that this refers to Christ's fulfillment of the law, both specific and general, by the sacrifice of his body. Or that, in his death, we will find payment for our sin (since the temple tax paid part of the overhead for sacrifices, often done for the expiation of sin).