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Daily Devotional for November 22

November 22                                                Matthew 17:22-27

                        "...the children are free. "

The key to today's passage is an understanding of the half-shekel
tax which every adult male was required to pay annually under
the Mosaic covenant. In practice, it was used to maintain the
Temple, but its spiritual purpose was that "each shall give a
ransom for himself to the Lord." (Exodus 30:12)

Now the collectors of the tax ask Peter, "Does not your teacher
pay the tax?" Peter replies, "Yes," and from the perspective
of the Mosaic covenant his response is correct. "But when Christ
appeared as a high priest... Christ entered once for all into
the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but
Christ's own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption."
(Hebrews 9:11-12) "Therefore Christ is the mediator of a new
covenant... ." (Hebrew 9: 15) There is consequently no obliga-
tion to pay the half-shekel tax, for the Mosaic covenant with
all its requirements is obsolete. (Hebrew 8: 13) Jesus, who is on
the brink of his death and Resurrection and already anticipates
its effects, therefore declares to Peter that "the children are

Having alluded to this new age of freedom, Jesus immediately
invites Peter - and us - to be part of it. He says,

   "Peter, go to the sea of all the possibilities of your life
   as you would go to the sea on an early morning full of
   possibilities. Cast out your desire there as you would cast
   a hook to catch the first fish of the day; you will find that
   your desire has hooked onto the one who first comes up
   from the grave as the first fish comes up from the sea, ris-
   ing in its very dying. Hook onto me, Peter! Catch me,
   Peter! Bring me into your boat, Peter! And when you have
   brought me into your life, take the spiritual currency, the
   truth that I am telling you with my own mouth, the good
   news of my death and Resurrection, the shekel of freedom,
   and give it to the people for me. Tell them I have paid
   their ransom, as I have also paid yours, when I gave myself
   as a ransom for all. (1 Timothy 2:6) Tell them they are free!

From The Road to Emmaus - An inclusive devotional Edited by Joseph W. Houle

Emmaus House of Prayer - Washington D.C.


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