Matthew 17:25-27. “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 saith unto Him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we shold 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.”
I jumped ahead a little bit yesterday, noting that Peter’s reply to the tax collector’s question had been “Yes!” Picking up from there, Jesus stopped Peter when Peter entered the house where Jesus was. Jesus had another question for Peter. He asked him, “Peter, when a conquering king wants tribute, does he demand it from his own people or from the strangers in the lands he has conquered?”
Well, that’s easy. Tribute money always comes from the strangers in the conquered lands. The king’s own people (children) are already heirs in their own land, and have no need to pay tribute. The lesson for Peter was this: The tax is levied for the temple that belongs to Me. I am the Lord. Therefore, I am not obliged to pay, and neither are you because you are My disciples, My children. Nevertheless, to avoid giving offense, we will pay.
Then Jesus demonstrated that He indeed owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the fish in the sea, and everything else in creation. He directed Peter to cast a hook, take the first fish he caught, open its mouth, find money there, and use it to pay the temple tribute. This was a miracle, no matter how you slice it. It was a miracle if the money was already in the fish’s mouth because Jesus knew ahead of time that it would be there, in that fish’s mouth. If the money wasn’t already there, it was a miracle for Jesus to put it there.
Nothing is impossible for the believer who has faith the size of a mustard seed. Jesus is the King of Kings, Lord of creation, ruler and owner of everything. He can supply, even when it’s a matter of an unfair tax.
We don’t hear Peter arguing with Jesus. Apparently he went and did as he was told.