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The Privilege of Sons

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Introduction

Today is Mother’s Day, and I know that throughout the day today many of you have plans to celebrate and honor your mom or the mother of your children. I also know that today is a very difficult day for many of you, and I want you to know that I’ve prayed specifically for you that the Lord would minister to you through his word and his Holy Spirit. I know that many of you have lost your mother or maybe you’re a mother and you’ve lost a child, or you long to be a mother and for whatever reason in the providence of God that hasn’t happened yet, and so today is very difficult. You are loved and cared for, dear sister.
But, what all of us know that have had a good mother in our lives one way or the other know that having a mother comes with privileges. There are things that you’re momma will do for you that she wouldn’t do for any other person on earth, just because she loves you and she’s your mother and she wants to be a blessing to you. I can think about my wife with our daughters staying up with them all night long and having to change shirts three times because she’s been puked on, but she keeps singing to them all night long and rocking them and comforting them because she’s their mom, and she will nurture them at all costs. I can think about my mother-in-law coming and staying with me for four weeks while I recovered from my surgery and encouraging me and helping me out of the chair and praying for me, because she has taken me as a son. I can think of my own mother who has received countless frantic phone calls from me and provided for me and doing without things so that I would have and sleeping beside my hospital bed in an uncomfortable chair for 6 days and refusing to leave, all because she is my mom and that comes with privileges and with a commitment to provide for and love me unconditionally. And, in the Bible and in the NT especially, a healthy parent-child relationship is always intended to paint for us a picture. If we are in Christ, then we are the children of God. And being the children of God, comes with privileges that are not particular and extraordinary to us. And, I think that is right at the very center of our text this morning. This morning, we are going to see a powerful view of the supremacy of Christ, and at the very same time, a clear glimpse into the privileged position that we hold as God’s children.

God’s Word

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The Two-Drachma Tax

“the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter” So, this morning, we’re talking about taxes. Won’t that bless you on Mother’s Day? The account that we’ve read this morning is a peculiar text to say the least. At least one Bible commentator called this ‘perhaps the strangest text in all of Matthew.’ On this day, a group of men called ‘collectors’ approached Peter about Jesus paying the Temple Tax, or the Two-Drachma Tax. Now, when you think of this, don’t think of the tax collectors that are referred to as ‘sinners’ in , like Zacheus or even Matthew himself. These are not the tax collectors that were viewed as traitors because they were collecting taxes on behalf of Rome; these are tax collectors for the Temple. This was not a Roman tax; this was a self-imposed tax that the Jews charged themselves. It finds its root in the book of Exodus in chapter 30 when Moses institutes a tax of this amount at every census to fund the work of the priests at the tabernacle. It was carried forward by the Jewish people after the construction of the Temple and was by the time of Jesus being paid every year by all men over the age of 20. And, it amounts to about two days wages. These men do not carry with them the baggage of tax collectors of Mathew’s ilk, and they do not appear to have any particular malice in their hearts toward Jesus.

Jesus was Born Under the Law

“He said yes” It’s interesting that when Peter responds to the question of the collectors question, he, apparently without hesitation, says “Yes.” It is the assumption of Peter that Jesus will pay the Temple Tax. In fact, it is likely that in his 2.5 years with Jesus that he had witnessed Jesus paying the tax. Further, this was firmly rooted in the OT, and Jesus strongly upheld the OT as being the authoritative word of God. So, in Peter’s mind, this is a no-brainer. Jesus wasn’t one to back away from paying what He owed, and He certainly wasn’t one to shrink back from the Law of God. Jesus’ reputation with Peter was that if God’s word said it; He would do it. You see, Jesus was ‘born under the Law.’ In , Paul says, “But when the fulness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Man, I think what Paul is saying here is right at the center of what’s going on in our text here. Jesus was born under the Law. The Law Giver, the Law Incarnate became one submissive to the very law He gave. Jesus was born into the world that was under the oppression of sin and incapable of up-keeping the Covenant Law of God, and being born into that world, He did what no other man could, He kept it perfectly.
Jesus is the perfect law follower. And, He must be so that He can be the perfect Law Fulfiller. There was no law, ceremonial, civic, or moral from which Jesus excused himself. All 633 commandments of Moses were abided by perfectly in Christ, not only in behavior and action, but also in spirit and attitude. Jesus gave every offering, and He never did it with anything less than a cheerful heart. Jesus kept perfectly the Sabbath, and rested body, mind, and soul in the goodness of God. No unclean food ever touched his lips, and no unclean thought ever passed through his mind. Never for a single second of his life did He love something or prioritize something even one fraction of a MM more than He loved God. Jesus was never jealous of his neighbor's wealth or success, and Jesus never disobeyed his parents, even though He was perfect and they were flawed. Jesus was a perfect worshipper, a perfect neighbor, and a perfect citizen of the nation of Israel. Jesus truly delighted in the Law of God. In action, in motive, and in attitude, Jesus perfectly fulfilled every iota of the Law of God.

You Aren’t Good

Jesus is the perfect law follower. And, He must be so that He can be the perfect Law Fulfiller. There was no law, ceremonial, civic, or moral from which Jesus excused himself. All 633 commandments of Moses were abided by perfectly in Christ, not only in behavior and action, but also in spirit and attitude. Jesus gave every offering, and He never did it with anything less than a cheerful heart. Jesus kept perfectly the Sabbath, and rested body, mind, and soul in the goodness of God. No unclean food ever touched his lips, and no unclean thought ever passed through his mind. Never for a single second of his life did He love something or prioritize something even one fraction of a MM more than He loved God. Jesus was never jealous of his neighbor's wealth or success, and Jesus never disobeyed his parents, even though He was perfect and they were flawed. Jesus was a perfect worshipper, a perfect neighbor, and a perfect citizen of the nation of Israel. Jesus truly delighted in the Law of God.
APPLICATION: And, this is why we need Jesus! Not only do we not fulfill the Law, we are incapable of fulfilling the Law. And yet, this is how most people are trying to live their lives. They are trying to live their lives for the purpose of convincing themselves, and perhaps even convincing God, that they are a good person. But, if you’d be honest with yourself this morning, you know that you really aren’t a good person. You might be a good person in comparison with other people your know, but the doesn’t make you a good person; that you makes your slightly more moral than another bad person. Let’s just look at the second greatest commandment: love your neighbor as yourself. Most of us would consider ourselves good neighbors, but are we really good? If you were to give money to a neighbor in need, can you say that you would honestly give it to him cheerfully? When your neighbor needs help with their children, do you help them without judgement? When you give your neighbor the shirt off of your back, are you doing it so that your neighbor might be taken care of and so that God might be glorified, or are you doing it so that you neighbor will think that you are great and tell everyone how wonderful you are? You see, one of the ways that we know that we aren’t good is by the fact that even the good that we do is corrupted. To live your life trying to get to heaven based upon your own good actions and moral standards are an offense to Jesus and his cross. You are declaring with every self-righteous action that you do not need Jesus and this cross was a cruel and unnecessary death for him to endure. Friends, stop running yourself ragged trying to measure up and be good enough. Jesus has fulfilled the Law for you! Come to Jesus and be set free from chasing after a standard of goodness you will never attain.

Jesus’ Humility is Absurd (The Gospel is Absurd!)

To live your life trying to get to heaven based upon your own good actions and moral standards are an offense to Jesus and his cross. You are declaring with every self-righteous action that you do not need Jesus and this cross was a cruel and unnecessary death for him to endure. Friends, stop running yourself ragged trying to measure up and be good enough. Jesus has fulfilled the Law for you! Come to Jesus and be set free from chasing after a standard of goodness you will never attain.
“From whom do the kings of earth take toll or tax?” Now as sure as Peter’s response of ‘Yes’ was to the collectors, Jesus’ response must’ve certainly surprised him. Jesus seems to have known what happened without having even been apart of the conversation. Jesus asks Peter a rather strange question: ‘From whom do the kings of earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?’ And, Peter gives the obvious reply of ‘Sons?’ And man, you’ve got to believe that Peter is on his heels at this point, don’t you? Is Jesus going to make a liar out of him? He’s probably thinking, ‘I just keep opening my big mouth!’ But, Jesus is teaching him here. He has just revealed explicitly to his disciples that He is the Son of God, and I think here he’s saying: Okay, Peter put all of this together! Is this not absurd? This is my Father’s Temple! Everything that happens at that Temple is at the command and instruction of my Father. Is it not absurd that I should pay the tax? Is the tax not an insult to my glory? This tax was used to pay for the livestock that was sacrificed for the atonement of sinners. Not only was Jesus not a sinner, but Jesus was the very Lamb of God that was to be slain as the final and ultimate sacrifice for the atonement of sin. How absurd it is that He pay a tax when He is going to pay with his life! Further, this is a tax for a Temple that Jesus is going to render totally obsolete! The veil will be torn and the Church will be established! In him, the Mediator, the Priest will be found through the Holy Spirit!
Brothers and sisters, the glory of the gospel is found in its absurdity! It is absurd that God himself would be in such a scene as this! You see, Jesus emptied himself of his divine dignity. In , Paul says that Jesus emptied himself when He covered himself in the veil of human flesh. When He emptied himself, Jesus did not forfeit his authority or essence as God; Jesus forfeited his dignity and privileges as God. So, Jesus did not cease for even 33 years to be God. He ceased being treated as God and being appreciated as God and being adored as God. And, Jesus emptied himself so that we might have the opportunity to filled with his righteousness. And, what we're seeing here before our very eyes are some of the day-in-day-out implications of Jesus' emptying himself of his divine dignity. What could be more absurd than this: the Son of God himself, the very one from whom and through whom and for whom all things are made paying a temple tax. No prince pays taxes in his father's kingdom. It is Jesus' privilege as the Son of God to not have to pay the tax for his Father's temple. And as absurd as it is, Jesus pays it. Jesus pays it in an act of remarkable self-denial and divine humility. Out of all of the gods on the earth, only the Christian God can be described as humble and it not detract from his glory. What could be more absurd than a humble God? And, yet it is this very thought, this very reality that provokes us to worship as the children of God, isn’t it? Oh, the Gospel is gloriously absurd!
Jesus emptied himself of his divine dignity. In , Paul says that Jesus emptied himself when He covered himself in the veil of human flesh. When He emptied himself, Jesus did not forfeit his authority or essence as God; Jesus forfeited his dignity and privileges as God. So, Jesus did not cease for even 33 years to be God. He ceased being treated as God and being appreciated as God and being adored as God. And, Jesus emptied himself so that we might have the opportunity to filled with his righteousness. And, what we're seeing here before our very eyes are some of the day-in-day-out implications of Jesus' emptying himself of his divine dignity. What could be more absurd than this: the Son of God himself, the very one from whom and through whom and for whom all things are made paying a temple tax. No prince pays taxes in his father's kingdom. It is Jesus' privilege as the Son of God to not have to pay the tax for his Father's temple. And as absurd as it is, Jesus pays it. Jesus pays it in an act of remarkable self-denial and divine humility. Out of all of the gods on the earth, only the Christian God can be described as humble and it not detract from his glory. And, this is exactly what we see in our text here.

Kingdom Privileges for Kingdom Passion

“not to give offense to them” Jesus gives a very specific reason for his paying the tax. Jesus does not pay the tax because He owes the tax. He has already shown that as the Son of God He owes no tax in the Temple of the Father, a Temple the He himself would render obsolete! But, Jesus will pay the tax, and He will pay so that he will not offend the collectors. Now, this makes us nervous! Jesus is doing something because He doesn’t want to offend someone! In fact, Jesus is forfeiting his very own Kingdom privileges, voluntarily, as the Son of God so as to not bring offense to these men and others who would be aware of it. I think there’s a principle laid out here that we will see continually fleshed out in the ministry of the Apostles in the NT: Jesus is temporarily setting aside his Kingdom privileges for the sake of his Kingdom passion. These men apparently do not have malice in their hearts toward Christ. And, it is Jesus’ concern that it will make it more difficult for them to realize and accept who He is if they believe that He is unconcerned about the work of the Temple. So, Jesus is going to pay this tax, not because He is obligated to pay it; Jesus is going to pay this tax so that He might bring good into the lives of these men by eliminating a potential stumbling block to their understanding of who He is and what He offers them.

We Are Fellow Heirs

“Then the sons are free” Now, I want you to hold that thought for just a minute because beneath the surface here, there is a major joy and major responsibility for us! Notice that everything that Jesus says is in the plural. He says ‘the sons are free.’ The ESV words verse 27 as 'not to give offense,' but virtually every other translation I read translated this as 'So that WE don't give offense.' Jesus is speaking in the plural here. So, Jesus is saying that not only is it absurd for him to pay the temple tax as the Son of God, but it is absurd for Peter to pay the temple tax as a child of God himself. Peter himself has the dignity of a son of God! Woah! It is just as absurd for Peter to pay the tax and it is for Jesus because Peter, too, is a child of God! Jesus goes on to pay taxes for both He and Peter as an application of his point.
The ESV words verse 27 as 'not to give offense,' but virtually every other translation I read translated this as 'So that WE don't give offense.' Jesus is speaking in the plural here. So, Jesus is saying that not only is it absurd for him to pay the temple tax as the Son of God, but it is absurd for Peter to pay the temple tax as a child of God himself. Peter himself has the dignity of a son of God! Woah! It is just as absurd for Peter to pay the tax and it is for Jesus because Peter, too, is a child of God! Jesus goes on to pay taxes for both He and Peter as an application of his point. ILLUSTRATION: Shobane: "I am a servant of the King!" We are children of the King!
ILLUSTRATION: Shobane: "I am a servant of the King!" We are children of the King! In the OT, nobody ever prayed to God as Father. Never! They might have spoke of him as being the Father of Israel, but they did not address him as Father. They would not even allow the covenant name of YHWH to be spoken aloud out of reverence and fear of the Lord. Yet, in , Paul says that we are ‘fellow heirs with Christ’ and that we have been given ‘the spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, Abba! Father!’ You are a child of God and every privilege and honor that comes with title is as securely yours as Jesus is sovereign!
There is no greater dignity given to any of us than the title of son or daughter in the kingdom of God. And yet, there are times in our lives in which we must temporarily forfeit some of our privileges so as to not unnecessarily offend our neighbors. While we live on earth, we must empty ourselves as Christ did. We temporarily lay down our dignity so that people might see that Christ laid down his dignity for them. This is yet another layer to Kingdom-minded, God-centered, Christlike self-denial. Like Jesus, there will be times when we must temporarily lay aside Kingdom privileges because of our Kingdom passion! When? Any time one of our privileges might be a stumbling block to someone else's ability to see God.
1) Unbelievers - , - I am free to eat whatever I want, even if it was offered to an idol. Real life - If I was having dinner with a Muslim friend in my home, I would not serve pork. It would be an offense to him. And, it would be an unnecessary offense. I have to talk with him about the deity of Christ and the trinitarian God and a salvation that is by grace through faith. We’ve got big stuff to talk about, and pork just isn’t that big a deal! Now, when he leaves, the ribs are coming back! But, I’m going to temporarily lay down my privileges as a child of God so as to not be a stumbling block to the gospel for an unbeliever.
2) Weaker Christian - - A Christian with a weaker conscience. There are certain expectations, social and moral, that come with being a southern pastor, and a southern Christian for that matter, that have caused me to forfeit certain privileges so as not to cause other Christians unnecessary offense. Cutting grass on Sunday. Complaining about a meal to the manager. For many of these, temporarily giving them up means until I’m in the next life, a life of only privilege.

No Stumbling Blocks to the Gospel

APPLICATION: Here we see the tension of the Christian life: I must walk against the current of society in a life that is totally set apart preaching an offensive gospel without adding unnecessary offense. So, sometimes, living for Christ means courageously being willing to speak and live in a way that causes offense, and sometimes, it means making accommodations, though never compromises, so as to reduce offense. How do we determine when? What will make the gospel clearer? What will your Kingdom passion dictate? Clarity of the gospel. Speak out. Do without.

The Humble Savior is Almighty God

“when you open its mouth you will find a shekel” But, in this passage in which we learn so much about Jesus’ divine humility, we are not left without a glimpse of his sovereign power. Jesus pays the tax, and He pays it for Peter, too. But, Jesus doesn’t reach into his pocket for the money; He puts it into the mouth of a fish so that Peter can retrieve it. You see, the humility of Jesus’ humanity comes with the assurance of Jesus’ deity. He is the One that shaped the Himalayas and dug the pacific and holds the planets in orbit. He is the one who has sown you together in your mother’s womb and counted the hairs on your head. He is the One before whom every king and every nation will bow and declare as God.
APPLICATION/LANDING: And, in his sovereign power, in his sovereign goodness, He will provide for you every, single thing you need, even as you forfeit your privileges as his fellow heir, especially as you forfeit your privileges.
The missionary to China, Hudson Taylor said it this way: ‘Depend upon it. God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack supply.’ Jesus supplied Peter’s tax, and Jesus has supplied the very righteousness by which you have entered into the household of God. Brother and sister, He will supply every ounce of joy, every dollar demanded, every provision necessary for you as you live out your Gospel passion in Gospel joy for Kingdom fulfillment. You may forfeit your rights, but in doing so, you will receive the divine provision of Jesus himself. Your Savior is not just humble; Your Savior is God!
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