Jesus pays the Temple Tax

Mk 9:14-29     After descending the mountain, Jesus, James and John rejoin the other disciples. Jesus drives an evil spirit out of a boy who is deaf and cannot speak. The people think the boy has died of convulsions, but Jesus takes him by the hand and he stands up.

Mk 9:30-32     Jesus and his disciples return to Galilee where he teaches them about his death and resurrection (see 3 on Map 9).

 

Ruins of the 1st century synagogue in Capernaum

Remains of 1st century houses in Capernaum  (Mark 9:33)

 

Mk 9:33-50     Back home in Capernaum, Jesus confronts his disciples about their personal rivalry and their claims to be the greatest. In contrast, he compares his own humility to that of a child, and teaches them “Whoever is not against us is with us” (Mark 9:40). He condemns those who use their hands, feet or eyes to commit evil deeds.

Matt. 17:24-27 Following his return to Capernaum, Jesus pays the two drachma temple tax to the ‘didrachmae’ – the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax.

 

The Temple Tax

Following an order by Julius Caesar, all Jews throughout the Roman Empire were required to pay the Jewish temple tax in order to fund the maintenance of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The amount decreed for the temple tax – originally instituted to ‘pay’ for each person’s sins - was half a shekel of silver (see Exodus 30:11-16). In Jesus’s day, this was equivalent to two silver Roman denarii or two silver Greek drachmas (about two day’s wages), and the collectors were called didrachmae.

When Jesus was approached about paying his temple tax, he told Peter to catch a fish on a line and to open its mouth. When Peter did so, he found a stater – a four-drachma coin (the equivalent of a silver shekel) - which was exactly enough to pay the temple tax for them both. The fish was probably a Tilapia (or ‘St Peter’s Perch’) which has a marked pouch beneath its mouth where tiny young fish hide from danger.

 

Jesus goes up to Jerusalem

Lk. 10:1-37     During the autumn of 29AD, Jesus and his disciples travel between Galilee and Jerusalem teaching and healing. Jesus sends out seventy-two disciples to spread his message. Many people turn away from wrongdoing and return to God.

Jn 7:1-13        In October 29AD, Jesus goes up to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of Tabernacles. He goes secretly because he knows the Pharisees are plotting his death.

Lk. 17:11-19   En route to Jerusalem, Jesus passes through Samaria, where the prophet Elisha had cured Naaman, the Syrian commander, from leprosy (see 2 Kings 5:1-14). Just across the border from Galilee, Jesus enters a small Samaritan village where ten men with leprosy – an infectious skin disease – plead with him, from a distance, to cleanse them of their dreaded affliction. Immediately, like Elisha, Jesus heals them and tells them to report their cleansing to the local priest (see Leviticus 14:1-11).

Later, one of the men returns, throws himself at Jesus’s feet and thanks him. Jesus asks where the other nine men are, and points out that only one has returned to praise and thank God. He notes that the man who returned was not a Jew but a Samaritan – the race that the Jews despised because of their mixed ancestry. This meant they were regarded as spiritually ‘unclean’ and inferior in the eyes of most Jews (see John 4:9).

 

Burqin

The Samaritan village where Jesus healed the ten men with leprosy is thought to be the hilltop village of Burqin, 2 miles / 3 km to the west of the town of Jenin. During the 5th century, an altar was built here in a cave, identified by Roman Byzantine Christians as the place where the lepers had been kept in isolation from the rest of the community. During the next three centuries, a church was built in front of the cave and gradually extended. This church was later abandoned, but renovated and enclosed by a stone wall by Crusaders in the 12th century. In the 18th century, a new church was built over the site of the cave and the remains of the older church.

Today, the Greek Orthodox Church of St George, on the site of the lepers’ cave and the older Byzantine church, is regarded as the third oldest church in the world. It is still in regular use by the local Greek Orthodox Christian community.

 

Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles

Jn 7:14-36      Jesus arrives in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. Half way through the festival, Jesus begins to teach in the Temple courts. Some of the people are convinced that Jesus is the Christ – the promised Messiah. Others are unconvinced because they know Jesus is from Nazareth in Galilee (see John 1:45-46 & John 7:52).

 

Colonnades on the Temple Mount

Courtyard colonnades on the Temple Mount  (John 7:14)

 

Jn 7:37-39      On the last day of the festival, Jesus talks about the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that believers will receive after Jesus’s death and resurrection. “If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart, as the Scripture says” (John 7:38) (see Isaiah 44:3 & John 4:9-14).

Jn 7:40-52      Many believe that Jesus is the Christ, but the Pharisees want to arrest him. Nicodemus – a member of the Jewish council (and a secret follower of Jesus) (see John 3:1-10) – persuades them not to condemn Jesus without a fair hearing.

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