Matthew 17:24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the tax?" 25 He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?" 26 And when he said, "From others," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself."
We aren't faced with paying a temple tax to take care of a building, a tax levied by government. We don't experience a son not needing to pay tax in a kingdom ruled by his father. What can we learn from this passage of scripture? One lesson is who Jesus is and who He considered His disciples to be. Jesus considered Himself and the disciples to be the Son and sons of the ruling King of the earth. He declared He didn't need to pay the tax, nor did the disciples, making them Son and sons of the King (Matthew 17:25-26).
Another lesson we can learn from this passage of scripture is how to live our lives to best accomplish our mission. Notice that Jesus paid the tax so He would not give offense to the ruling authorities. Give offense means "to shock through word or action." Jesus chose to focus on His main task and not give offense for smaller things He was free to do.
The Apostle Paul learned this lesson of limiting personal freedom to accomplish primary goals. Paul limits his freedom around some people so he will not cause them to stumble or cause them to be offended (Romans 14:1-21; 1 Corinthians 8:1-9; 10:23-11:1). Please read the Scriptures in parentheses.
It is wise to limit the use of our rights to help another be able to focus on the major truth and not on the minor right. I choose not to drink alcohol so it won't be a distraction for others to know and walk in the truth. I am free to drink alcohol, but why do it if it might cause another to stumble. What freedoms can you think of that are okay for us to do in God's sight but might detract from our primary goal of helping people know and walk with Jesus?
We can learn another lesson from this scripture. Jesus can provide for us in a supernatural, yet ordinary way. He sent Peter to do what he was good at - fishing, an ordinary activity for Peter. While doing the ordinary, Jesus provided in an extraordinary way - the temple tax, a coin in the fish's mouth. God will always provide for us to do His will. We just need to follow His directions.