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.”
And when the Pharisees, with words that sounded as if they had come from the mouth of Frank Luntz, tried to entrap Jesus:
Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"
"Caesar's," they replied.
Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
For it must always be remembered how it is that Jesus came to be born in a humble manger near Bethlehem. As it happens, the Caesar Augustus had decreed that a census would be taken of all the people under his rule, to be sure it was to gain a count of his subjects, but it was also for the purposes of taxation:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And, it must be remembered that the Apostle Matthew was tax collector. Tax collectors were hated because they collected taxes for the enemy (Rome), they were thought to cheat those from whom they exacted taxes, and they were thought to become excessively wealthy from the fees they got for gathering taxes.
I'm ripping off from a local preacher's sermon:
At the top of the list of most admirable occupations? Doctors, scientists, teachers and ministers were at the top. These were all occupations that serve the welfare of humanity.
But at the bottom of that were those people who worked with money: bankers, businessmen and accounts. Yes, money related jobs were at the bottom of the list.....
One day, immediately after Jesus had called Matthew the tax collector to be one of his inner twelve disciples, Matthew invited his new master to his house for a dinner. Matthew had also invited all of his friends. Matthew’s friends were what the Pharisees would have regarded as “big time sinners.”
Who was there for dinner that day at Matthew’s home? Notice the words, “many tax collectors.” Not simply one but many tax collectors. Tax collectors were thought of as scum, as bad as robbers, adulterers, prostitutes and other pagans. And here were a whole bunch of them. Many tax collectors. It was as if Matthew had been an evangelist and asked many of his “own kind” to come and have dinner with this Jesus. And they were all eating together at Matthew’s home.
Also, notice the word “sinners.” There were people whom the Pharisees would consider other “big sinners.” The poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, the lepers. The riff raff. The scum of Jewish society. Jesus was eating with these people, having a meal with them, chatting, laughing, drinking wine, telling stories with these “scuzz balls.”
Apparently, this intercourse between Jesus and the tax collectors initiated the first verbal battle between Jesus and the Luntzian Pharisees. The sermon goes on to observe:
The Pharisees had hard-hearts to other people in need. In the stories in the gospels, they never lifted a finger to help sick and diseased people around them. Their hearts were calloused to human suffering.
Instead of mercy, the Pharisees were good at going to church, giving their tithe, spouting their Bible verses, quoting religious platitudes, looking pious, giving the distinct impression that they were religious folk.
My goodness! These Pharisees sound like Republicans!