Continuation of that who the true Jesus is.
Lest We Should Offend Them
“But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
After having said that the sons do not need to pay a half shekel, yet Jesus speaks to Peter to pay so as not to offend them.
We, like Peter who were on the natural page, will understand this saying as like this: Jesus is exempt, but lest they, who do not know Jesus’ identity, should be offended for non-payment, He spoke to Peter to pay.
However, this is not the correct intention of Jesus.
Jesus did not intend not to pay physical temple tax, because His being the son of God and His saying about tax exemption is the things in the spiritual realm, not the things in this world. So in this dialogue Jesus never intended to say that He was exempt from the physical tax.
Furthermore, giving a half shekel to God includes various purposes:
First, it has a purpose as a sign language which means that we pay a half shekel to offer Jesus Christ as a ransom, in order to receive a new life and be born again as sons of God.
The second purpose is to allocate a half shekel to the expense to be used for the service in the temple of God.
The third purpose is for God to bless the givers based on the offerings of a half shekel.
Then why Jesus said “Pay, so that we may not offend them?”
It looks like Jesus intended not to pay at first. But it is not. Jesus knew that Peter, a canal man at that time, would misunderstand what He said, and so Peter would not pay a half shekel tax. So to correct Peter’s this misunderstanding Jesus spoke to Peter to pay on the country to Peter’s thought not to pay.
Superficially, it looks like Jesus worries about the tax collectors, but His concern is to correct the disciple’s misunderstanding to the spiritual truth. As Peter’s misunderstanding is corrected, in consequence, the tax collectors are not offended.
Jesus only revealed the hidden meaning of the offerings of a half shekel by mentioning exemption. So the believers, even the real sons of God, still have to pay a half shekel. That’s reason why Jesus pays a half shekel, and thus He implies to them,
“When I said that the sons are exempt, I meant a half shekel in the spiritual sense. You have to keep paying a half shekel.”
As I explain this half-shekel tax, it reminds me of the tithe in the church nowadays. Tithe also has spiritual meaning as an offering oneself to God as a sign language, like a half shekel. I am not intend to advertise my books, but it will be useful if you could read article ‘Tithe that Abides Always’ in the ‘Fresh Eyes to Read the Bible III,’ as I cannot repeat it here.
Anyway, when the believers read this and half understand that the tithe has spiritual meaning, then they will be tempted not to offer physical tithe in the church, like the case of Peter here as to a half shekel.
But we have to correct our misunderstanding, and pay the tithe and be blessed by God.
Why A Half Shekel, Not A Shekel ?
Jesus reveals another truth through making one shekel to pay a half shekel tax. The truth which is revealed is the meaning of ‘half’ in a half shekel.
Why not one shekel, but a half shekel? I remember that I read that a half shekel was not a currency unit in those days. So they generally paid one shekel and counted it for two. For example, it will be like today that if the shekel of the sanctuary is $5 for each person, two persons pay a ten-dollar bill and count it for the two. We can see in the text that Jesus and Peter paid in this manner, i.e., pay the one shekel (four drachma) coin in the mouth of the fish for two.
Earlier, I mentioned ‘a half shekel’ signifies ‘Christ of each believer to be offer to God.’ If you offer Jesus Christ for a ransom, it means that Jesus Christ and yourselves (a half shekel) are planted together and die on the cross, are resurrected in unity. In this case, you and Jesus Christ are offered as ‘one shekel’ to God. Accordingly, a half shekel is my portion and another half shekel is Jesus’. So God receives the whole one shekel.
Read Romans below.
[Romans 6:5-9; italic mine]
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
If we want to be saved by Jesus, we must first be dead in unity with Him and live again. This unity with Jesus will begin when we meet Him as a man who has bone and flesh in our lives, and the same will be completed when Jesus die on the cross and live again in us. In the above text, ‘united with him’ is translated in KJV as ‘planted together,’ which I prefer to adopt, because this is Jesus’ life-giving process.
Through this process, each of us offers a half shekel to God and Jesus Christ adds the other half shekel on ours. What we can know from this is that the spirit of Christ occupies half of our born-again life. We become one with Christ in this way and saved. Therefore, the ‘half’ in a half shekel implies the unity of the man who is redeemed and Jesus Christ.
Some people around me think that they can fight against their old self and destroy the same by themselves. But this effort is fruitless. Our old self will only be destroyed only when we meet Jesus Christ who leads us to the cross, and we obey to it with faith. Do not spend time to teach yourselves nor train yourselves, but meet Jesus and follow Him, forsaking all.
Only when we are planted together with Jesus Christ, a half shekel of ours can be offered. Were it not for this unity with Jesus, there is no atonement made for our lives and we cannot pay a half shekel for ransom.
One Shekel In the First Fish
The meaning of a half shekel is further revealed by the coin in the mouth of the fish. To discuss the first fish, the sea signifies this world, and the fish is the people living in the world.
We recall that Jesus said Peter that Jesus would make him a fisher of men (Mt 4:19). Figuratively, Peter once was a fish in this world, the sea; he was hooked by Jesus and was taken out of the world dead, undergoing his cross, and then he was born again into the kingdom of God (Mt 13:47-48), as a fisher of men, a son of God.
This corresponds to the truth that we struggle for our lives to live in this world better even with the help of Jesus whom we self-created. But when we are hooked by the real Jesus and come out this world dead, we will be born again into the kingdom of God and have a new life as a son of God. Now we will have new life and live as fishers of men, not as fish anymore. A fish becomes a fisher of men after this salvation.
In the text, the fish Peter will fish for the first time is the firstborn and is sanctified to be offered to God (Ex 13:2; Nu 18:16). So, the first fish caught signifies the born again man. It has one shekel in his mouth, and the one shekel is the sum of a half shekel of himself and a half shekel of Jesus Christ.
“Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
We can understand that Jesus wishes to reveal again that one shekel which consists of a half shekel for Peter and a half shekel for Himself to be offered to the temple tax. By such payment, it spiritually implies that now Peter can enter the temple where God abides, the kingdom.
I initiated this article ‘A Half Shekel and A Shekel Coin in the Fish’ by mentioning salvation by Jesus. What will be the use of the Scripture if we cannot search the real Jesus, the Savior who will save us, through it?
Jesus when He comes into our individual life. Jesus will expose hidden mind of our old self to correct them. During this course, Jesus, the life-giver is planted together with us (a half shekel each for us and Jesus) for us to go through the death of the cross alive, and go into the kingdom of God.
Then, a half shekel of Jesus and a half shekel of us are offered as one shekel to God as a temple tax, and are allowed to go into the temple where God dwells. This time on, spiritually we will have no plague, we are twenty years old and over having eternal life. The Jesus who gives us salvation in this way is the real Jesus.
May you be planted together with Jesus and pay a half shekel!
Taken from “The Second Call of Jesus”