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God Is Our Provider!
The Gospel of Matthew
Matthew 17:24-27
Sermon by Rick Crandall
(Originally Prepared September 23, 2022)
(New version November 29, 2022)
*Please open your Bibles to Matthew 17:24, and we will take a good look at one of Jesus' countless miracles.
Today's miracle happened shortly after the mountain-top transfiguration of our Lord.
By this time Jesus was in the 3rd year of His ministry, and J. Vernon McGee estimated that the Lord was only six months away from the cross.
*Verses 24-27 tell us that:
24. . .
when they (Jesus and His disciples) had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?''
He said, "Yes.''
And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their own sons or from strangers?''
Peter said to Him, "From strangers.''
Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free.
Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first.
And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.''
*Church: This miracle is only reported here in Matthew's Gospel.
And this isn't one of the Lord's most fantastic miracles, but it's one of my favorites.
One reason why is because it reminds me that God has a sense of humor.
Think about it.
If God didn't have a sense of humor, would He have created anything that looked like a duck billed platypus?
Or a zebra, or a giraffe, or a penguin?
*And I think Jesus must have had a twinkle in His eye when He told Peter what to do.
Suppose you needed 1,500 more dollars to pay the IRS.
And somebody said, "Here's what you do.
Go down to Caney Lake." "Where on Caney?" "It doesn't matter.
Just start fishing, and when you catch the first fish, open its mouth, and you'll find an ounce of gold!''
*Sounds crazy, right?
-- God surely has a sense of humor.
But today's miracle is also one of my favorites because it reminds us that Jesus has full control over nature.
The Lord was in full control of the huge fish that swallowed Jonah.
And He was in full control of the fish that swallowed that silver coin.
*Jesus has full control over nature.
But most of all, this miracle is one of my favorites, because it reminds us that God is our provider.
*In Genesis 22:1-14, God tested Abraham in a way that would stretch our faith to the limit.
God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the only son that had ever been promised to this very old man.
God told Abraham exactly where to go.
And Abraham got up early the next morning to go and offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering to the Lord.
*Three days later, they got close to the place, and in Genesis 22:7-8, Isaac spoke to his father and said, "My father!''
And he said, "Here I am, my son.''
And he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?''
And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.''
*Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering."
And that's exactly what the Lord did in Genesis 22:9-14:
9. Then they came to the place of which God had told him.
And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.
And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!''
And he said, "Here I am.''
And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.''
Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns.
So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
And Abraham called the name of the place, Jehovah-jireh; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided.''
*In this story, skeptics only see cruelty from God.
But believers see the cross, because what Abraham was asked to do, God has already done for us!
He sacrificed His only Son.
God provided a Lamb.
And from this story we get one of the favorite names of God: He is "Jehovah-Jireh", the Lord, our Provider.
*Our God is the greatest Provider of all, and there are a million examples we could share today, but the greatest thing God ever provided was salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ!
And the Lord wants to provide us with everything else we will ever need.
*In today's Scripture Jesus miraculously provided Peter with a piece of money.
It was a silver "stater" or "shekel," and that was exactly enough for two people to pay the Temple tax.
*William Barclay explained that the Temple in Jerusalem was an expensive place to run.
There were expenses for the daily morning and evening sacrifices, and the incense they burned every day.
The costly robes and hangings of the priests wore out, and the High Priest's robe alone was worth a fortune.
*The actual Temple building itself could have fit inside of a baseball infield.
That was pretty surprising to me.
But the large structures all around the Temple, like the storerooms, porticos and courts built by King Herod filled an area the size of 24 football fields!
Think of the cost to keep up a facility like that.
Plus, there was a force of Temple police officers who protected the Temple grounds, and carried out judgments of the Temple Court of Law.
*All of these things took money, so based on Exodus 30:13, every male Jew over 20 years of age had to pay an annual Temple tax of one half-shekel.
The value of the tax was equivalent to two day's pay for a working man.
And the Temple authorities had power to seize a man's belongings if he failed to pay.
*The collection was highly organized every year, and carried out in the month of Adar that partially overlaps our March.
They announced tax time in all the towns and villages.
Then on the 15th of the month, they set up booths every town and village.
That's where all the men went to pay the Temple tax.
And if it wasn't paid by the 25th, it could only be paid at the Temple in Jerusalem.
*This was the money that Jesus provided for both Himself and Peter.
But as we look at this Scripture, we can see how Jesus provides for us.
*Jesus wants to be deeply involved in the lives of His followers.
Think about this as we listen again to vs. 24-25:
And when they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?''
He said, "Yes.''
And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their own sons or from strangers?''
*In these verses it's easy to see how the Lord got involved in Peter's life.
But notice that Jesus was involved in Peter's life, EVEN WHEN PETER COULDN'T SEE IT.
Jesus didn't have to ask Peter where he had been, or what had happened, or how the tax collectors had quizzed him.
Jesus already knew what was on Peter's mind when he walked in the door.
*God's involvement in our lives may not be seen, but it is going on behind the scenes!
The Lord's involvement is supernatural, steady, and sure.
Jesus is right here with us right now Christians.
By His holy Spirit, God the Father and His only begotten Son Jesus Christ are living in us.
On top of that, in Matthew 18:20 Jesus said, "Where 2 or 3 are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.''
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