After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “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 so 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.” (Matthew 17:24–27)
Peter has taken an enormous risk hitching his wagon to Jesus. The little band of minstrels have passed the raised-eyebrows stage and are about to enter the period of opposition to Christ—the pitchforks-and-torches stage. Peter is confronted by the elders of his own village with a troubling question. He comes into the house visibly shaken, and sees his master standing at the counter chopping vegetables. There is a moment of silence, while the pang of doubt shoots through his mind: Perhaps the Master is not as righteous as we thought; he does not seem to keep the Law. Jesus does not look up; he simply says, “What do you think, Simon ... ?”
“Peter, I’ll tell you what I need you to do. ...” He sends the fisherman fishing. He gives him time to sort things out. He shows him there are higher laws to live by. Jesus has a sense of humor. Without a deep confidence in that, the story is simply bizarre. But with that understanding, it is a beautiful and very human and also immensely funny story. The fruit of which is only to make us love him more.