The Lord Jesus was accused of working miracles by the power of Satan, Matthew 12:21-27. He was never accused of illusions, tricks or rigged setups. The authenticity of his miracles were not questioned, they were powerful overwhelming evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was more than a mere man. The idea that the source of his power was evil has led many people to argue that Jesus was simply a very good and wise magician. It was early on historically that the philosopher and critic Celsus made a public record of that allegation around 200AD. Sometimes these critics point to the fact of Jesus making money appear in the mouth of a fish as proof that Jesus did magic.
There are four interesting facts about the miracle of the coin.
- Peter was one of the most outspoken disciples that would be more than willing to examine the miracles of Jesus. Yet, Jesus performed this miracle on Peter rather than any other disciple. They were not an audience, but rather students trying to learn. If any magic was involved, why would Jesus pull a trick on Peter and not one of the more quiet or complacent disciples? Instead he purposely pointed it towards Peter to teach him a lesson, he didn’t really want to learn.
- The coin produced in such a powerful and odd place, was not for their own gain or pleasure. The first fishes mouth was a message of Peter’s business resource being taxed. The Jewish Temple Guards supported the “House of Merchandise” which the Jewish Priesthood turned into a “Den of Thieves” and would be supported by this money. So both Jesus & Peter paid taxes to a system of government that would hurt them!
- Jesus powerfully helped God’s faithful “children” suffer loss in the hope of not offending civil or religious powers. He cares about the taxes & custom we must pay, and if we will live faithful lives of integrity, he will help us in our “unfair” expenses. However, take note: the coin was the exact value needed to pay the tribute due for both Peter and Jesus, not more and not less, but just enough.
- Since Jesus did not pay tax from his group’s moneybag which Judas carried, are we to assume that he didn’t really pay tax at all? Perhaps some of the Pharisees heard about His attitude about temple tax, and it prompted a second incident (Matthew 22:15-21) regarding Jesus and taxes? In this case the question is about paying taxes to the foriegn, oppressive, ungodly Roman government. It is clear that he did and teaches us to do the same. See 1st Peter 2:13-17.
The real generosity of Jesus in paying the Temple tax is emphasised, so that Peter and the other disciples fully understand this; That in their faith of Jesus being the Son of God, His Father’s house was not something that he would be obligated to help pay for, but, regardless of any possible misunderstanding, he would be gracious and offer this money for payment of the Temple tax. Can we be equally generous in paying our taxes? Does this make us feel awkward at the end of the year, when gift-giving season approaches for tax deductible opportunities?