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the double drachma tax...

I can honestly say that I had never thought twice (or even recalled) reading or hearing about the "double drachma tax" story in Matthew 17:24-27. My curiosity was peaked. Why would this be a story that Matthew would write about? There had to be something I was missing...and as I began to dig further and further into studying about this tax I realized that missing something, I was.

This tax has roots all the way back to Exodus 30:11-16, which is vital to the story in Matthew. God had instructed Moses to use the tax for the service of the tent of meeting (where the Israelites would gather and God would meet with them). An important detail to know is that this tent of meeting was constructed outside of the camp, signifying the broken fellowship with God (for more on the meaning of the "outside of the camp" click here to read a blog I wrote about it awhile back).

This tax was told to be a "ransom" for each Israelite that paid. And not only that, it was also an "atonement" for their lives. The use of these words was no accident and the tie that binds Exodus and Matthew is brilliantly orchestrated. You see, the "ransom" was the payment to set them free from being a prisoner from bondage. The "atonement" money was used to bring the Israelites into full reconciliation and union with Yahweh. I guess you could say, that this was a pretty important tax for the Israelites!

Fast forward about 1,600 years, and here begins the story in Matthew, about how the tax had been seemingly reinstated as a nod to the historical tax of Moses. As the tax collectors questioned Peter about his "teacher" paying the tax, Peter was quick to reply yes, as he wanted to protect Jesus' reputation. Jesus' omniscience (all knowing) was on full display when Peter came back. Jesus confronted Peter about the discussion he had with the tax collectors and guided him through a series of questions about who earthly kings collect taxes from...strangers or sons. And of course Peter answered "strangers". The thing is, with that response, unbeknownst to Peter, he was categorizing Jesus as a stranger to the temple, when He in fact, was actually the temple.

Jesus went on to say that the sons [of God] are free (the ultimate ransom and atonement was here for all who believed). The beautiful story of redemption was unfolding right before them. Not only was Jesus the Son of God, but had come to set all of us free. We were no longer bound by rules of man, because for those who chose to believe in Him, they were now "...God's children, and if children, also heirs..." Romans 8:16-17. Because of Jesus we are no longer outside the camp. Our Savior has come to pay the ransom and atonement that gives us eternal life forever more.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36


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