Imagination and Money in a Fish’s Mouth
The life of faith is not only about what we do but also about what story we think we are a part of.
The story about Simon Peter getting Jesus’ tax money from the fish’s mouth (Matt. 17:24-27) came to mind this morning in prayer (feel free to join us every Friday morning from 6:30-7:30 for prayer at the church office). That story demonstrates this importance of imagining the Kingdom.
Jesus and the disciples arrive in Capernaum (where Jesus lived) and those who collect the temple tax ask Peter if Jesus pays the temple tax. Peter, keeping with his “I’ve got this under control personality,” answers without thinking, “Yes!”
When Peter gets back to the house, Jesus immediately asks Peter, “What do you think, Simon?” Peter’s thinking, his imagination, was exactly the problem. We know Jesus told Peter to go fishing to pay the tax both for Peter and himself, but first He needed to do something more important.
If this story was supposed to teach us, “Jesus paid his taxes,” or some variation thereof, all Jesus needed to do was tell Peter where to get the monies. Story over. Instead, He knows He needs to adjust why Peter imagines Jesus will pay this tax.
In Peter’s imagination, Jesus wasn’t much different than anyone else. Jesus begins with a question about who pays taxes: servants or sons? The answer is obvious to Peter as well as any of us: servants. The sons of kings do not pay taxes. Therefore, the Son of God does not pay a temple tax (the temple is God’s palace or throne). Jesus then instructs Peter that he will pay the tax in order not to offend them, but not because he owed it. Jesus corrected Peter’s imagination. The same action with the wrong imagination was an entirely different thing.
The same action with the wrong imagination was an entirely different thing.
What I hope is becoming obvious in our series, in our discussion of Hebrews 11-12, is that the life of faith is not only about what we do but also about what story we think we are a part of.
Join us in worship this Sunday as we continue our series, Imagining the Kingdom, beginning in Hebrews 12:1-17.
Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash