"The Bite Is On!"
A few years ago, there was a true story about a man in New York City who was kidnapped. His kidnappers called his wife and demanded a $150,000 ransom. The wife, however, was able to talk the kidnappers down to $30,000.
The reporter writes that the story had a happy ending. The man returned home unharmed, the money was recovered, and the kidnappers were caught and sent to jail.
The reporter, however, took a different angle on the account. He wrote, “But, don't you wonder what happened when the man got home and found that his wife got him back – at a great discount? The reporter said that the wife’s negotiations contained a strategy that included phrases like:
"$150,000 for that old guy? You have got to be crazy. Just look at him! Look at that gut! Look at that balding head! You want $150,000 for that? You've got to be kidding. Give me a break here. $30,000 is my top offer."
The reporter concluded, "I suppose there are some here this morning who can identify with the wife in that story, but for some reason I find myself identifying with the husband. I'd like to think if I were in a similar situation people would spare no expense to get me back. I’d hope they wouldn't haggle over the price. That they wouldn't say, 'Well, let me think about it.' I like to think that they would say, 'We'll do anything for you. No price is too great to pay!'"
Isn’t that the heart of the Gospel (the Good News)? Christ didn’t try to cut a deal with His Father and compromise all that He would have to do to save us from our sin. Isn’t that the message we long to hear? That God really, really loves us and Christ paid every penny of our ransom because of His intense longing to have us?
And yet we have trouble living in the power of the Good News because we don’t see ourselves as Billion Dollars Believers (As Christ does).
We see ourselves as bargain clearance types. On our best day we are pretty ordinary. Not nearly as spectacular as the grandiose promises found in the Good News. Not nearly as impressive as disciples who said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
In our text for Sunday, there are no multitudes. No electrifying events. No special celebrities. Ultimately, Jesus and Peter are in a very ordinary setting (house) talking about a very common subject (paying the taxes they owe). This probably defines how many of us will come in on Sunday. There are no multitudes hanging on our words. Few of us come here today with celebrity status. Most of us have come from very ordinary settings having spent much of the week dealing with very common matters.
It is to us that Jesus offers this story.
Matthew 17: “What do you think, Simon?” Jesus asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?”
26 “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not offend them, 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.”
See you Sunday!!