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When Peter was asked by the tax collectors regarding the temple tax, “Doesn’t your Teacher pay the temple tax?”  Peter replied, “Yes, He does.”  This reply prompted Jesus to speak to Peter as he came into the house, and see that Jesus was the first to speak, saying, “What do you think, Simon?  From whom do the kings of the Earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?”  “From others,” Peter answered.  “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him.  “But 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.”

This is a classic and common scenario for all of us when questioned about whether we practise what others deem to be their holy, sacred cows of practice.  We also say, “Yes, we do too,” so that we would fit in and not offend people.  However, in so doing, we have not told them the truth required.  The point of the lesson that Jesus was trying to show Peter was not about the tax, but to show Peter that indeed Jesus is the Son of the King, and the provision of the four-drachma coin through catching a fish in itself holds many lessons for us. 

1.     It speaks of the Lord’s command over the fish to pick up that four-drachma coin, and it is a sign of His authority, which had been given to Adam, “Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air,” so that even the creatures obey the Lord. 

2.     The catching of that fish by Peter was the Lord’s way of showing Peter that He could also use the skills that Peter had as a fisherman to solve his problems. 

3.     The fact that the Lord spoke first before Peter was to show Peter and us that He knows what we say and what we get ourselves into, and the conversation that Peter had with the tax collectors was not hidden from the Lord.

4.     See that Jesus wanted Peter to pay the tax so as not to offend the tax collectors.

Now the Lord’s question to Peter was, “What do you think, Simon?”  The reason the Lord asked Peter the question was because, only a few days earlier, Peter had been on the Mount of Transfiguration and had heard the Father’s voice and the command.  And he had seen for himself a sight that only two other disciples were privileged to see, the very transfiguration of Jesus Christ in the presence of Elijah and Moses.  Not even Paul was privileged to such a sight.  So then, the answer that Jesus wanted from Peter, which Peter had already given, was the answer of one who knows who Jesus is, not one who believes who Jesus might be.  When Peter said to the tax collectors, “Yes, He does,” it was no longer the appropriate answer from Peter.  For indeed, how can the Son of God be expected to pay the temple tax of the temple of His Father.  Indeed Peter’s answer should have been anything other than these words, “Yes, He does.”

Jesus asked Peter what he thought because Peter should have checked his own thinking, as we all should, that is, it is not just what we think, it is what we should think!  What should a man who has heard the voice from the Cloud of Glory think?  What should a man who has seen Elijah and Moses stand next to his Lord and watch Him transfigure to shine like the sun think?  It is literally what should you be thinking if you were Peter as well?

Our minds remain dull and our thinking likewise because we have not seen the glory of the Lord, and we will never see the glory of the Lord as long as there is no power in the church, no power to cause the miracles to happen regularly and no power to change and make a difference.  Without the power there can be no new imaginations and therefore no innovations. 

Until the power of petroleum was unleashed, horse drawn carriages were by and large unchanged in the speed they could travel.  They may have changed in their shape and adornment, but they remained essentially the same for thousands of years, and the way people used them, the roads that were made for them and so on did not change.  However, when the power of the internal combustion engine was unleashed, the change came; new wheels, new carriages, new ways of manufacture, new materials and new industries sprang up until right now.  And if you took away the internal combustion engine, you would take away the world we know.

Peter was given a demonstration of power by Jesus in a way no one had ever imagined it possible.  He may have read about Moses coming off the mountain with his face glowing as a result of his audience with God, that is, his face reflected the power it had beheld.  But Jesus’ face didn’t reflect the power of the Cloud of Glory like a moon reflecting the radiance of the sun, but rather, His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light.  See what is written and understand that Jesus’ face itself shone like the sun.  That means that energy, light and power were emitting from Jesus Himself, like the sun emits energy.  A Man had just transfigured with such power that He had become like the sun itself.

Now, think, what does a Man like that have to do with paying the two-drachma tax, except to avoid drawing attention to Himself?  As such, it was not so much Peter’s reply, but rather, what he was thinking when he gave that reply that Jesus was drawing our attention to.  So when the Lord said, “What do you think, Simon?” the Lord was commenting on what Peter was thinking when Peter said what he did.  If Peter had been thinking that he could not reveal the secret of the Lord that He is the Son of God, the Heir who owns the temple, so he should not pay the temple tax, but since Peter was under orders not to reveal what he had seen, then the reply to disguise who he knew Jesus to be was correct.  However, the reply was incorrect because of his thinking.  The Lord showed us what Peter was thinking by His question to Peter, “From whom do the kings of the Earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?”  If Peter had this in mind when he was giving his answer, Jesus would not have had to ask him this question. 

Remember Peter, James and John were told by Jesus, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”  Nowhere is it recorded that they did that.  When Peter wrote:  We were eyewitnesses of His majesty, it does not exactly give a very detailed or accurate account of what did happen, does it?  Unlike what the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the gospels to write:  There He was transfigured before them.  His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.  His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.  As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.  Now compare that with what Peter wrote, the details of the transfiguration go beyond the ‘majesty’ of Jesus, which many can just mistake and water down as meaning the ‘kingly’ character of Jesus.  There was nothing ordinarily kingly about Jesus on that mountain, He was outrageously freaky!  A Man who suddenly, whilst praying, had His face changed so that it shone like the sun and His clothes flashed like lightning.  Peter saw that, yet still his thinking was not where it should be.

Is it therefore then no surprise to anyone that Jesus knew the content of the conversation between Peter and the tax collectors so that before Peter spoke, Jesus asked?  The Father said, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.”  And Jesus demonstrated just that to Peter that while he was speaking Jesus had heard.  So, the thinking expected of a person who knows is different from that of a person who believes.  Peter may have given either an inappropriate or an appropriate answer in the sense that he may have said, “Yes, He does,” because he wanted to appease the tax collectors.  Or he was trying to hide the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, as he had been commanded to do, so as not to disclose what he had seen.  But what Jesus showed us when He questioned Peter, “What do you think, Simon?” was that regardless of Peter’s answer, his thinking was not right, for the Lord not only can answer before we call and hear while we speak, but knows what we are thinking.  Again and again it is written:  Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said… 

So, it is not surprising that what is expected of you and me are the correct motives and formats of our thoughts, and not just actions and words as it was expected of Peter.  You see, Peter said a perfectly reasonable thing to the tax collectors, whatever his reasoning was, but his thinking was incorrect, for he was not thinking as a person who knew that Jesus is the Son of God, but rather as one who believed.  The encounter between Peter and Jesus demonstrated not Peter’s inappropriateness or faults, but Jesus’ commitment to continue to teach us even when we are slow and dull.  In a few sentences, Jesus taught and reminded Peter of the things he should know and the way he should think.

The challenge then is for us, you and me, to learn to think as persons who know and not as persons who believe.  Yes, it is more blessed to believe and yet not have seen.  However, our focus on being ‘blessed’ is costing the Lord, because as long as we stay believers only, we will never change our thinking, and if our thinking does not change, then nothing changes.  Going back to the horse drawn cart and the horseless carriage, if people only ever believed that one day horseless carriages were possible, but continued to think as people who believed, there would be no changes made to the road systems.  It was after the car was made and people saw and knew what it could do and what it required that roads designed for it were made. 

Likewise, people who remain believing Jesus will never make the changes needed to their speech and actions because they have never seen or known Jesus, and therefore they do not know what His requirements are.  However, a man who knows Jesus, not believes Him, will change his words and actions according to the needs of Jesus, whom he knows, and his thinking would be based on his knowledge and not his faith.

As an example, just in speech alone, once you know Jesus and not just believe Him, you would never pray in the same way.  There would be a difference in the formality and certainly you would not address Him in your operatic voice designed to annunciate your position and piety before men, but rather, you would speak to Him as man to Man, brother to Brother and son to Father.  Clearer still are the examples of actions and how they differ between the ones who believe and the ones who know.  Religious rituals are always the hallmark of those who think as one who believes, and a simple forthrightness is the hallmark of those who think as ones who know.

It must be clear to you by now that Jesus thought as One who knows God as His Father, therefore His speech and actions are those of One who thinks that way.  Compare the actions and words of Jesus with every other man of God before Him who all believed God and obeyed God, but whose thinking was of those who believe.

The ranting and raving of Job, the discourses of Job, are those of a man whose thoughts are of a man who believes in God, but not of a man who knows God, so that after God came and spoke to Job directly, hear these words of Job:  “My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You.  Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”  As Paul wrote:  faith comes from hearing… and Job had faith in God, for he had heard of God, but he had never seen God and did not know God, but once his own eyes had seen, Job then turned from a believer to a knower, and see how he lost all his self-righteousness and indignation against God.  Likewise, the thoughts of one who knows guard him from self-righteousness and indignation.

So then, when we ask ourselves, “What do you think?” the real question is not what, but how should we think.  Do we remain thinking as a person who believes because we have not make the effort to enter through the narrow door to see what lays behind it?  If we remain on the broad road of faith, then our thinking will be that of one who is always thinking of the worst.  What do I mean?  A man who has seen a thousand amputees will always think that once you are an amputee, you can only look forward to having a prosthesis and be a cripple forever.  However, a man who has seen an amputee re-grow his leg will look at every amputee and see the opportunity to repeat that which was done.  So the former would go and comfort the amputee whilst raising funds to purchase a prosthesis, but the latter would do the same and also pray for the leg to re-grow, using the prosthesis only as a temporary help until the foot re-grows.

So then, we come to the root of the problem of all mankind; it isn’t what we say or do, it isn’t whether we listened or did not listen, it isn’t whether we saw or have not seen, or whether we believed or did not believe, it is all of the above, but the root of the problem is the way we think and the inclinations of those thoughts. 

It is written of Eve:  When the woman saw the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  Desire comes from a thought or a wish, be it from the soul or the heart.  It was the way Eve was thinking that led to her downfall, not just what she saw and heard.  It is written:  The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the Earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.  If that was the situation back in the days of Noah, imagine what we face now and imagine what God sees now about the inclination of the thoughts of men’s hearts.

When you learn to recognise that there must be a difference in the speech and actions between those who think as ones who know and ones who believe, you would realise that a question like the one they asked in Acts 1:6, “Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” meant that they still did not really know why Jesus had done all He had done before them.  Because if you thought as one who knows that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who has come not only to save the world, but establish the Kingdom of God on Earth with Himself reigning on the Earth eventually, you would have asked, “Lord, how shall we prepare for the Kingdom of God and Your coronation?” 

Your thinking determines your speech and your actions, even your enquiry.  You can enquire as one who believes in Jesus or you can enquire as one who knows.  You see, the Magi from the east did not enquire about Jesus as ones who believed, but as ones who knew.  See what they said to Herod, “Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews?  We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”  See who they said this to, Herod himself!  You would really have to know what you were saying when you are speaking to the king of the land whilst asking for the new King who has been born without his knowledge!

The very first action by the eleven in casting the lot to see whether Matthias or Barsabbas would be selected to replace Judas was the action of those who believed but not of those who knew.  Their thinking remained as ones who believed that God would choose someone to replace Judas, but did not know who.  From that first error, based on faith and not knowledge, the thinking of the eleven continued to vacillate between those who know and those who believe, or rather, those who should know versus those who believe, and that vacillation meant that about fifteen years or more later at Acts 14, when James introduced what he believed was the way Gentiles should be taught about observance of the Mosaic Law, Peter was not able to stand the ground.  For Paul was coming there to offer his revelation to ensure that he was on the right track, as Paul wrote:  Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas.  I took Titus along also.  I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.  But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.  You see, Peter when he spoke before James in Acts 15:11, said, “No!  We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”  Wrong words, and that gave James an opening to make his remark.  You see Peter said, “We believe…” not “We know.”  Had he said, “No, we know it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are,” that would then have given Paul the confirmation that he needed and was seeking and allowed him, that is, Paul, to stand, and James would never had got a word in sideways.  And if James was not allowed to speak in Acts 14, imagine, just imagine where we could be now.

So then, what of us?  It is one thing to look back with hindsight and criticise those who did what they could in their time.  And since we have their mistakes to teach us, even more is demanded of us.  So, what do you think, or rather, how should you think?  Think as one who knows.  So what do we know?

  • We know this:  For all the traditions, organisations, razzamatazz, politicing and partying, the current denominational systems leave the blind blind, the lame lame, the deaf deaf, and food is bought at a price and not multiplied, and so on.
  • We know this:  The current church cannot function without a healthy Mammonic system, and that everything is done with and through money.
  • We know this:  Very few people have been brought up to the level of fulfilling even the first half of John 14:12, much less doing the greater things through the current denominational doctrines, traditions and teachings.
  • We know this:  No one alive is a witness of John 11:26 yet through the current teachings and practices available.

Sure, the Gospel is preached, people’s lives are changed and when they die they have the assurance of Heaven, and the current stock of present denominations do achieve some of this.

How do we know what we want, again, know what we want, not believe?  If we have defined our goals and parameters, then we have to look at what is available, and then decide if what is available can achieve our goal.  As an example, let us say we want chariots to be able to go 150km per hour, and we look at the current system of horse drawn chariots, can that be achieved using what is available?  Say, can we make a carriage drawn by a hundred horses so that it can go 100kph?  Is it practical, feasible and plausible with current chariot technology, which is know how and practice?  If the answer is no, then we know we need to invent a whole new system, and to invent a whole new system you begin by looking away from the current system.  That is, you would not use horses or carriages that run on wooden wheels, the chariots would disintegrate at 100kph.  You would then have to imagine a horseless chariot with power that comes not from horses, but from something else.

Fortunately for us, the task is far easier than having to design the horseless chariot that can go 100kph from the ground up.  We have a prototype that worked perfectly until it was ignored, and its precepts, principals and rules were done away with and modified until we have the present model.

You see, Jesus showed us what can be done and how it can be done, except we totally ignored it and went off and did what we believed should be done instead of doing what we were shown.

So, what do we know now?  And that is, how we should be thinking now?  We know there is no other church model out there that has achieved John 14:12 and John 11:26, so how should we think about them?  Have nothing to do with their practices first, for they can only teach us what not to do, not what to do. 

Only Jesus can show us what to do, and the Holy Spirit reminds and teaches us, so then, we should think as ones who know that listening to Jesus is the only way and practising His words is the only method.  And we also know that as much as Peter, John and Paul did do some miracles, even the early church did not multiply food and they all died.  That is, although they were going well for a while, whatever they did stopped them from achieving the goal that we have set for ourselves.  You see, what they did may have achieved the goal that they set for themselves, but we know, not believe, that which they practised cannot achieve our goals.

So, what do we know?  Do we know our goals and do we know what we have that can achieve those goals?

So, be clear-minded and think as ones who know, not believe, because we have watched, listened and practiced enough to know what works and what doesn’t work.  We know just as Paul knew, the Law of Moses justifies no one.  We know just as Peter believed and knew, “Lord, to whom should we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.” 

So, do you know now that a blind man can see and a lame man can walk?

Do you know now the words of Jesus are truth and they are life?

Do you know now the voice of the Holy Spirit?

Do you know now who you are listening to?

Do you know if you want to go to Heaven or stay on Earth?

Do you know which resurrection you want to participate in?

Do you know how to get yourself beheaded?

Above all else, do you know who Jesus Christ is?

What do you think?  Do you know?

 

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