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Jesus and the Temple Tax (Rabel)

(Back) Jesus Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection Temptations to Sin (Next)

This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Winter semester 1976 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Part of Lecture 25 given on March 8, 1976

Matthew 17:24-27, pp. 148b-151 of transcript.

(Read the whole passage).

17:24And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received the half-shekel came to Peter, and said, Doth not your teacher pay the half-shekel? 17:25He saith, Yea. And when he came into the house, Jesus spake first to him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? the kings of the earth, from whom do they receive toll or tribute? from their sons, or from strangers? 17:26And when he said, From strangers, Jesus said unto him, Therefore the sons are free. 17:27But, lest we cause them to stumble, go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a shekel: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

This incident again, as so many, contains things which are not explained within the incident; we are left dangling on many points. There could be many reasons for this but whatever the reasons, the fact remains that we have connections or explanations missing and in incidents such as this we can only aim for the more obvious metaphysical forms or symbols involved here. We do have, although a rather fragmentary, a very useful lesson such as it is. Think of Jesus now as the spiritual awareness of the Christ Spirit. Peter, as developing faith consciousness, and the tax collectors, or tax gatherers, here will represent all of the taxations or impositions which life will send to us to receive or toll or tribute or proper response from them. Life is supposed to do this; we are in this dimension of life by our own choice, that must be made clear, nobody through you here. You are here because you made a soul choice and the obvious reason why we must have made this soul choice is that there are lessons to be learned here which cannot be learned elsewhere.

This is the dimension on which certain types of lessons can be had that cannot be had on other dimensions and for that reason while we take all the advantages and benefits which are true in this dimension. The other side of the coin says there are taxes that need to be paid on this dimension and the tax gatherers symbolized in the Gospels really stand for any of the duties, the burdens, the responsibilities, the involvement, the demands which are made on us simply because we are citizens. We are inhabitants of this dimension and we share responsibilities as well as advantages. Somebody discovers a new and better method of dentistry and who benefits? We all do. On the other hand, somebody else decides on a new kind of taxation which goes into race consciousness and who pays the tribute? We all do. The thing is, we can do it easily and beneficially through spiritual awareness, or we can do it resistingly and grudgingly and be uncomfortable doing it, or we can make a very serious mistake: try to cheat on our share of paying taxations in life. Jesus here enacts for our benefit a very beautiful thing to do about the fact that life, being what it is, is constantly sending responsibilities, duties, burdens, involvements, even sometimes penalties (they look like penalties but they aren’t) in daily living.

The tax collectors come to Peter and notice, they do not start out with the words, "we demand payment of your tax.” Instead of this the words that are put into their mouths are a question, “Doth not your master pay the half-shekel?” and then Peter standing for the affirmative faculty as spiritual consciousness affirms “Yea.” No beating around the bush, no seeking of exemptions, just simply affirming the right answer to a question, “Can the Christ in you handle any of life’s demands for taxation?” “Doth not your master pay the half-shekel?” Who was Peter’s master? Jesus who stands for the Christ. So the question asked by life is, “Can Christ in you handle anything we throw at it?” and the answer is “Yes.” Peter doesn’t hesitate. Other ways of stating the same idea are: “Greater is He that is within me than He that is in the world.” “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

The real of you can handle anything that is happening to you. This is the same principle all the way through. Now, it doesn’t say that Jesus was listening but Jesus knew what was going on because when Peter comes into the house which, of course, means to turn within and communicate with your Christ nature. The Christ presence immediately begins communicating with Peter about the situation. What do you do about the way life is? About the day by day human existence where we have these "pain-in-the-neck" taxes and so we say, why is life making these demands on me, why do I find myself involved in responsibilities or burdens or duties that I’d rather be without. But here they are on my front door. So Jesus begins by asking Peter, “the kings of the earth, from whom do they receive their toll or tribute from their sons or from strangers? and Peter says, from strangers." The kings of the earth mean in general man-made difficulties, man-made conditions which seem to dominate at the moment. These are called the kings of the earth and they are in every person's experience, even Jesus with this transcendent know-how and spiritual consciousness because he chose to become an inhabitant or a citizen of this three dimensional existence area, then, he too had to be subject to certain "kings of the earth" activities or man-made agreements about duties and responsibilities. A lot of these come to life as a part of our inheritance that is we inherited them from our forefathers (I am speaking now sociologically and biologically).

A lot of them are formulated while we are already here, some of these, we enter directly into the decisions about them, but some we only indirectly enter into them because we happen to be here. One example that comes to my mind now is the passing of time and growing older within that passing of time. This is a thing in our circumstances where we are born into so that up to a certain point the passing of time takes its toll. Think of the tax you have to pay if you want to unite yourself with another person. Are there no taxes there? If you want something, then take what comes with it. In some cases it comes as a toll or tribute you must pay.

When Peter answers Jesus that the kings of the earth receive their taxes from the strangers, this indicates that there are certain taxations or burdens or responsibilities which are not wanted by you, which you feel you are a stranger as to how this came about. But whether I am a stranger as to how this condition came about in my world or not, it doesn't make any difference, you have to pay for it, but if you are a son it will be different.

Student's intervention: A thought occurs to me that if you are a son you can claim exemption and in our spiritual life we might try to claim exemption from paying of the taxes in life.

A. Yes, that is very right because Jesus then goes on saying, "But lest we cause them to stumble, you see?” By claiming your exemption you might be adding to another person’s burden, it could happen if there wasn't divine justice in it. But the message here is rather ambiguous at this point, it doesn’t stand out obviously and clearly as it does in other parts. But we can at least gather this much. Many of the taxes that we are going to have to pay in our course of life; we may feel in some cases like strangers and ask ourselves, "why me?" "I didn't decide that the passing of time resulted in old age!" (At least I am not conscious of it, I do not remember consciously.) I am a stranger to the time when I was part of it. In the same way we can go on and on.

Jesus ends his discourse by giving one of the most marvelous symbolic formulas for paying any kind of taxes that life will ever insist upon. Please remember that there is a law of divine justice and no tax will ever come for a person to pay if somehow it is not right that it does so and that which makes it right is, "we can always do so through Christ within." Jesus says to Peter, “go thou to the sea…” The sea in Bible symbolism has more than one meaning, sometimes it stands for just life itself, ordinary life, but in this case since it is the container of fish, which are divine ideas, then the sea stands for the Universal Mind and which of the disciples is to go to that Mind? Faith, the affirmative power of the mind directly connected with substance. Mr. Fillmore defines substance as the perceiving power of the mind linked with the power to shape substance and we know that that which shapes substance is imagination and affirmation. Also faith is the perceiving faculty within mind that is able to perceive Truth and affirm its reality or divinity.

Peter, the faculty of faith turns within and realizes its oneness with Divine Mind, with the all-knowing Mind of God and all of the substance of that Mind, and cast a hook which is desire and expectation and belief, and fish, of course, are divine ideas. Now, that which connects you to any divine idea is a combination of your desire, expectancy and your belief, a combination of these three factors would be the hook which will connect you with whatever divine idea is right in this particular situation.

Supply and demand are, under divine law, always equal. There is no need that can come to your attention for which there is no also present simultaneously its fulfillment. Wherever there is a hook cast into the sea of the Mind of God, there is always the best and most appropriate fish that will attach to that hook, but you must pray, you must activate it by prayer and obey the Christ guidance. Your receptivity, your believing, your willing state of mind will always find the right idea in the substance and in the allness of divine ideas there is an answer. You have to take up that fish and open its mouth, explore its possibilities, explore its ramifications, open the mouth of a divine idea and in doing this you will find the shekel, the solution, the answer, the fulfillment. “that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” In this case you see that Peter also finds the payment for his taxes there is a double portion of what was originally looked for.

The metaphysical lesson that Jesus is presenting here has been presented in so many different ways in our Unity teachings and in various places of scripture. This is simply that God is the answer, God’s Mind is ever present and within it are all of the divine ideas that man could ever in any way possibly need. Man’s part is to have faith in this, to take the necessary action through faith, to have the hook ready and to cast it into this sea of all possibilities of right answers. A very similar lesson was found way back in Genesis with the covenant of the rainbow and there the symbolism instead of being the fish of the sea were colors in the spectrum but the meaning remains the same. What you look for with your mind and heart you will always find, so there is nothing that life can ever bring to your door for you to handle that you can't handle through the divine idea in God Mind, all this under the supervision of your spiritual awareness or the Christ within.

Text of the original transcript of p.148b through the bottom of page 151.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on 04-03-2014