Taxes, Fish, and Jesus

Taxes, Fish, and Jesus

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March and April are saturated with wonderfully exciting things like warmer weather, flowers blooming, and outdoor festivities, to name a few. But this time of the year is not all sunshine and rainbows because, for Americans, it’s also tax season. For some people, tax season is exciting when you get that awesome refund; however, tax season can also bring a bone-crushing debt for others. Lack of planning, financial ignorance, procrastination, changes in the tax code, or just a lack of annual income lead many Americans to dread tax season. That may be why Tax Preparation Services in the U.S.A. were a 14-billion-dollar industry in 2023. Finding a dependable, trustworthy, and reliable tax professional takes so much pressure off because you can place your confidence in them to take care of you and your family. If you are anything like me, you know you’d be in complete shambles without your tax advisor (Shoutout to the tax wizard, Brandon Lanciloti, at Freed-Hardeman University).  

As much as we probably hate paying taxes, they have been around since at least Ancient Egypt (Genesis 47). Ultimately, we know governments could not function, and nations would fall without taxes. A valid argument could be made that the people of Jesus’ day hated taxes exponentially more than we do today. There is a shocking amount of time dedicated to taxes and finances in the ministry of Jesus; all four gospels record something on the subject. A notable example of this is when the Pharisees tested Jesus in Matthew 22:17-22 where He famously says, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” The people of Jesus’ day struggled with and dreaded taxes then, just as we do now. 

Jesus undoubtedly performed the most mind-blowing and powerful miracles this world has ever seen throughout His ministry. But the one that has captivated me the most lately concerns taxes. In Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus performs what might be His most underrated miracle of all. What if I told you Jesus once paid taxes with a coin from a fish’s mouth? Crazy, right? When the tax collectors in the temple asked Peter for the temple tax, Jesus told him to catch a fish, and the first fish he caught would have the tax money inside. 

There is so much to love about this miracle. How could anyone not love the way Peter doesn’t question Jesus at all about the request? He knew Jesus had done some crazy things with fish before, and He could do so again (Matthew 4:18-22, 14:13-21, 15:32-38). So, Peter does not hesitate to do precisely what Jesus said. You also have to love how Matthew (who was once a tax collector) is the only one to record this miracle out of the four gospel writers. Of course, with his tax background, this miracle would stand out to him more than most. However, the most significant thing we should take away from this miracle is how one of our greatest struggles and fears (taxes and finances) is entirely TRIVIAL for Jesus. At this moment, Jesus is so unphased by money that He almost makes the very idea of it seem ridiculous. 

How awesome is it that we serve a Savior who could not care less about money? When you create the whole universe with your voice—like Jesus did—everything is already yours. How much of our lives are spent worrying about money? Money is so trivial to Jesus that even though He could have been the wealthiest man who ever lived, He chose instead to have nowhere to lay His head at night (Matthew 8:20). Once you witness the glory and splendor of Heaven, there is no reason to get bent out of shape over the valueless money of earth. Jesus knew that all too well, and it gives us hope in the life to come. A life where the greatest currency is the righteousness of God flowing like rivers of water in the home of the soul. Taxes, fish, and Jesus… what an incredible combination. 

-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism

  1. Read Matthew 22:17-22 aloud as a family. What stands out to you in this passage? Talk about this moment in the life of Jesus together. Why do you think they “marveled” at His answer?
  2. Read Matthew 17:24-27 aloud as a family. What stands out to you in this passage? Discuss what makes this miracle so distinctly different from Jesus’ other wonderful works. What does this display of awesome power do for your faith in Jesus as the Son of God?
  3. Have an open and honest discussion about how you struggle with finances and money. Let Matthew 6:19-21, 25-34; 1 Timothy 6:10; James 4:13-17 guide and frame your discussion.

Print article and questions HERE.