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What’s Happening?

After his transfiguration and being named as God’s Son, Jesus has two other “son” related encounters.

The first is a father asking for his epileptic son to be healed (Matthew 17:15). Jesus laments when he finds out his own disciples were unable to heal the boy (Matthew 17:17). After Jesus casts out the demon that was causing these epileptic fits, he explains to the disciples that their failure was due to a lack of faith (Matthew 17:18). But with just a small seed of faith in Jesus, nothing would be impossible for them. They could say to an immovable mountain, move, and it would move.

The very next thing we read is Jesus predicting his death again (Matthew 17:22). This speaks directly to the issue of faith from the last story. The disciples do not believe that Jesus must die and rise again (Matthew 16:22). So, Jesus is directing them to the object of their faith - namely, his upcoming death and resurrection.

In the second son related story, Jesus and Peter talk about the temple tax (Matthew 17:24). Men, ages 20-50, had to pay this tax, which helped pay for the upkeep of the Jewish Temple. Jesus asks if kings tax their own kids (Matthew 17:25). The assumed answer is, “Of course they don’t.”

The point Jesus is making is that the tax is for the temple, which is God’s house. Since he is the king’s son, he is exempt from the tax. Still, Jesus sends Peter to catch a fish and promises that inside the fish he’ll find the money to pay the tax for both of them (Matthew 17:27). So Jesus avoids offense and displays his unique power as God’s Son.

Why Is This Good News?

There is one mountain no one in the world was able to move - the inescapable climb towards death. But, as in the story with the epileptic son, just a little bit of faith in Jesus gives us victory over sickness and Satan - both of which lead to death.

When we put our trust in the fact that Jesus went to the cross to bear our illnesses, sins, and condemnation, we get to do the impossible (Isaiah 53:4). We get to escape our diseases, the devil’s oppression, and the grave. Some of that will happen now, as God’s kingdom comes (Matthew 17:18). But all of it will happen soon, in our resurrection (Revelation 21:4).

When speaking with Peter about taxes, Jesus says that “the sons are free” (Matthew 17:26) The miracle that follows doesn’t just pay for Jesus; it pays for Peter, too. Later, Jesus’ resurrection won’t just mean new life for Jesus. It will mean new life for all of his followers, too. Because of Jesus’ saving work, anyone with faith in Jesus has been adopted into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5).

1 John 3:2 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Anyone with faith in Jesus is now a son or daughter of the King. They are free, too. Free from sin. Free from the law. Free from death. As Jesus said, “sons are free.”

See for Yourself

I pray that the Holy Spirit would give you eyes to see the God who loves us like his own children, and Jesus as the one who makes us sons and daughters of God.

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