Lord Jesus, let Your Spirit rule in us in everything. Amen.
Text: Matthew 17:24-27
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?” 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.”
If He is God’s Son, He should hardly have to pay tax to the temple, which is His Father’s, just as little as an earthly prince pays tax to his father. Yet by what He says here, He testi?es about His divinity. Thus by what He does, He shows in deed His almighty power and His omniscience by telling Peter to take a coin from the fish’s mouth. But He who is God’s only-begotten Son, the almighty Lord, who did not have to pay tax, pays the tax. Christ’s love is the spirit of humility and peace, forming and strengthening society. And this love He has given to His people, His members, so that His Spirit in us conquers over the flesh and the unlawful spirit of the devil. Examine yourselves, you Christians who want to be Christians more than in name only. Find out what spirit you follow: Christ’s spirit of obedience, or the power-seeking spirit of the world; Christ’s love which willingly bears the burdens of your companions, or selfishness which murmurs and complains! Many people talk a lot about Christ and freedom in Him, but are so far from the humble obedience of the Savior and the true free mind of the Christian. Instead they toil under the yoke of self-will and are controlled by a spirit of freedom which divides and tears apart both Church and human society.
“If you want to belong to My kingdom,” the Lord says: “then deny yourself. If you want to rule with Me, then put on My humility and obedience. If you want to wear a crown of glory there, then bear the cross here and walk in My footsteps.”
So draw me to You, Lord, and let me be led in Your way. Give me grace to put on Your mind and to follow You faithfully. Let me be a good citizen in the holy Church on earth which You established – and in heaven a blessed member of the Church Triumphant, into which You gather all Your saints. Grant us this grace, most merciful God. Amen.
Teach us, God, with joy and gladness
To regard Your great commands;
Truth and justice do now send us,
Your dear people in all lands!
Bless our leaders, one and all,
Who now serve us by Your call;
Let all evil be confounded,
And Your glory forth be sounded!
Let Your peace and true salvation
Be on ev’ry mind and tongue;
Drive away all our temptation;
Crush now Satan’s poison fang!
Let us live in peace and rest
That our lives may e’er be blest.
Church and state and home grant blessing
Till in heav’n Your name we’re praising.
(Laache’s reference is unclear.) Hauge’s Salmebog 208 Lær os, Gud, med Lyst og Glæde; tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Werde munter (ELH 354); alternate hymn: Grant peace ELH 584