It’s Not About the Money! Or: “Wait– Did Jesus Just Create Money?”

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (Morning)
Psalm 119:121-144 (Evening)
1 Macc. 3:42-60
Rev. 21:9-21
Matt. 17:22-27

It’s Not About the Money!
Or: “Wait– Did Jesus Just Create Money?”

Our gospel reading this morning In Matthew 17 describes the miracle of the gold coin in the fish’s mouth. This miracle seems a little different from many of his other miracles because the actual miracle is almost an afterthought in the story. Not a single sick person was healed with the appearance of the 2-drachma gold coin in the fish’s mouth! Why did Jesus perform a miracle to accomplish something so small as producing a coin worth 2 day’s wages?

Part of the answer lies in the passage when Jesus foretells his murder and resurrection. Several opposing ideas are presented: the tax men at the temple only see him as mortal, though he is not; he announces he will be dead soon, and will rise again.

The gold coin seems to be the connector. The coin allows Jesus and Peter entrance to the temple, the same way you and I would have to pay to enter in early times. Jesus tells Peter he is paying the gold coin “so that we do not give offense” to those who don’t understand that he is the Son of God, since “kings only tax their subjects, not their children.”

Jesus is illustrating the importance of our participation in this broken, imperfect, often corrupt world. Jesus suggests we: 1) participate fully in this world and 2) simultaneously work toward justice and change in our nation and, yes, maybe even the tax code. The alternative of removing ourselves and “taking on” every immoral government action can give the appearance of “other-ness” or separation to our friends and neighbors who might not be able afford such activism. Better to participate in society, reach out, love our neighbor, and work together “within the temple” for significant change.

Written by Alan Ostner, RLA

Alan is a recovering English Literature major and licensed landscape architect who was raised Methodist in Little Rock. He later spent 6 years attending the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Fayetteville. He and his wife Molly Jensen and their children Phoebe and Reed discovered their faith community in 2011 at Saint Paul’s under Father Lowell’s steady guidance. Alan currently gladly and faithfully serves on the vestry as Junior Warden.

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