Fishing for taxes - 19 October 2018

Xanthe Hancox

After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”  “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”  “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, 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.”  Matthew 17:24-27

Peter must have wondered why God would make his own Son pay tax, so he went into the house to speak to Jesus about this. Before he has a chance, though, Jesus asks him a question which takes him by surprise.

Jesus responds with a metaphor, the gist of which goes something like this: Kings don’t collect taxes from the children, and God is the king of the Temple so Jesus, as God’s Son, is exempt from paying tax (Matthew 17:26).

That makes sense. There was no obligation for Jesus to pay the tax collectors anything, for himself or for Peter. But Jesus paid it anyway. In grace, he miraculously paid Peter’s debt in full. He would soon pay Peter’s eternal debt on the cross.

We also should note that Peter had to do something. Firstly, he had to trust Jesus. And secondly, he had to get out his fishing gear, go down to the lake, and get to work. The coin didn’t simply drop from the heavens. Do we expect that Christ should simply give things to us? Let us be ready to work for him!

Prayer: Thank you Lord for revealing yourself to us in this remarkable story as the omniscient Son of God who gladly and graciously meets our daily needs. Forgive us for the times we have been unwilling to do your work. Amen.

Gentle as a dove - 18 October 2018

Xanthe Hancox

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17

Have you ever wondered why the Holy Spirit first appears in the New Testament as a dove? Wouldn’t it have been more impressive for the Spirit to come like a magnificent lion or a tiger? If it had to be a bird, surely an eagle or an albatross would have had more impact than a dove?

An answer comes from Isaiah 42:1-4. where God introduces his servant and then promises to place his Spirit on him, sending him out to bring justice to the nations. How will the servant achieve this? Not through power and might, but in purity, gentleness, and humility: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3).

This prophecy is fulfilled, in part, at Jesus’ baptism when the Holy Spirit descends as a dove, demonstrating that Jesus loves the weak, cares for the suffering, and, above all, offers peace and reconciliation with God. A hawk doesn’t exactly have the same gentleness about it, does it? Jesus confirms this later in his own words: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. . . For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we know that peace and reconciliation with God the Father comes from knowing Jesus. Walk in that peace today and always.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, descend as a dove on us today. May your presence bring peace in our lives so that we can share the peace of Jesus with the world. Amen.

Vang vis vir belasting - 19 Oktober 2018

Xanthe Hancox

By hulle aankoms in Kapernaum het die amptenare wat die tempelbelasting invorder, na Petrus toe gegaan en gesê: “Wat van julle leermeester? Betaal hy dan nie tempelbelasting nie?” “Ja, natuurlik,” antwoord hy. Toe hy in die huis kom, was Jesus hom voor met die vraag: “Simon, hoe dink jy: Van wie vorder die konings van die wêreld tol of belastings in? Van hulle seuns of van ander mense?” Toe Petrus antwoord: “Van ander mense,” sê Jesus vir hom: “Dan is die seuns mos vrygestel. Maar ons moenie hierdie mense aanstoot gee nie. Gaan see toe en gooi hoek in, en die eerste vis wat byt, moet jy uittrek. As jy sy bek oopmaak, sal jy 'n silwermuntstuk daarin kry. Vat dit en betaal hulle die belasting vir My en vir jou.”  Matteus 17:24-27

Petrus moes gewonder het hoekom God sy eie Seun belasting laat betaal. Hy is na die huis waar Jesus was om Hom daaroor uit te vra. Voor hy nog 'n kans kon kry vra Jesus hom egter 'n vraag wat hom verbaas het.

Jesus antwoord die vraag met 'n metafoor waarvan die kern die volgende is: Konings vorder nie belasting van hulle kinders in nie, en God is die Koning van die tempel, so Jesus as die Seun van God, is dus vrygestel van tempelbelasting (Matteus 17:26).

Dit maak sin. Jesus was onder geen verpligting om die belastinggaarders enigiets vir Hom of vir Petrus te betaal nie. Maar Jesus het dit betaal. Deur genade het Hy op 'n wonderbaarlike manier Petrus se belasting ten volle betaal. Nie lank daarna nie, het Hy ook Petrus se ewigheidskuld aan die kruis betaal.

Ons moet daarop let dat Petrus egter iets moes doen. Eerstens, moes hy Jesus vertrou en tweedens moes hy sy visgerei uithaal en na die meer toe gaan en hoek ingooi. Die muntstuk het nie net uit die hemel geval nie! Verwag ons soms dat die Here net eenvoudig alles vir ons moet gee? Nee, kom ons wees gereed om vir Hom te werk!

Gebed: Dankie Here dat in hierdie merkwaardige verhaal U uself aan ons openbaar as die almagtige Seun van God wat deur genade in al ons daaglikse behoeftes voorsien. Vergewe ons asseblief vir die kere wat ons onwillig is om U werk te doen. Amen

Sagmoedig soos 'n duif - 18 Oktober 2018

Xanthe Hancox

Jesus is toe gedoop en het dadelik daarna uit die water gekom. Meteens het die hemel bokant Hom oopgegaan, en Hy het die Gees van God soos 'n duif sien neerdaal en op Hom kom. Daar was ook 'n stem uit die hemel wat gesê het: “Dit is my geliefde Seun. Oor Hom verheug Ek My.” Matteus 3:16-17

Het jy al ooit gewonder hoekom die Heilige Gees in die Nuwe Testament as 'n duif verskyn? Sou dit nie meer indrukwekkend gewees het as die Gees as 'n kragtige leeu of tier verskyn het nie? As dit dan 'n voël moes wees, hoekom nie 'n arend of 'n albatros wat tog meer impak sou gemaak het as 'n duif?

Die antwoord is in Jesaja 42:1-4 waar God sy dienaar bekendstel en beloof om sy Gees op hom te laat kom en waar Hy hom uitstuur om sy wil aan die nasies bekend te maak. Hoe gaan die dienaar dit bereik? Nie deur krag nie, maar deur sagmoedig, rein en nederig te wees. "'n Geknakte riet sal hy nie afbreek nie, 'n lamppit wat dof brand, sal hy nie uitdoof nie." (Jesaja 42:3)

Hierdie profesie word deels vervul by Jesus se doop toe die Heilige Gees as 'n duif neergedaal het as 'n bewys dat Jesus die swakkes liefhet, omgee vir diegene wat ly, en bo alles, vrede en versoening met God bring. 'n Valk weerspieël nie dieselfde tipe sagmoedigheid nie, of hoe? Jesus bevestig dit later deur sy woorde: “Kom na My toe, almal wat uitgeput en oorlaai is, en Ek sal julle rus gee. … want Ek is sagmoedig en nederig van hart, en julle sal rus kry vir julle gemoed. (Matteus 11:28-29)

Deur die teenwoordigheid van die Heilige Gees in ons lewens weet ons dat vrede en versoening met God die Vader kom net deur Jesus te ken. Bly in daardie vrede vandag en tot in ewigheid.

Gebed: Heilige Gees, daal soos 'n duif op ons neer. Bring deur u teenwoordigheid vrede in ons lewens sodat ons die vrede van Jesus met die wêreld kan deel. Amen

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