Matthew 17:24-27, this text isn’t about taxes. Trying to make it so is like trying to help out your friend who recently bought a classic car, which is complete and in running condition, but dissembled into many pieces, by giving him your son’s Lego car instruction booklet. Sure, there is correspondence, both have a steering wheel, wheels, a windshield and so on, but that classic car won’t be going anywhere because of your help. Sure, we have taxes here, but trying to make this text about civil taxes removes all its go power. Make this about civil taxes and you’ll have to push your little Lego car to make it run.
The glory of this text is not about how you relate to Caesar, but how you relate to God in Jesus Christ. The tax collected here was not one Matthew would have formerly gathered. This tax was not used to fund Rome. Whereas you would be unpatriotic for being a tax collector, paying this tax was a patriotic act. Whereas being a tax collector indicated the idolatry of mammon, paying this tax could be an act of worship of the one true God. This tax was collected to upkeep the temple. This tax has more in common with a church offering than a state tax.
The temple is Jesus’ Father’s house (Luke 2:49, John 2:17). Jesus is under no obligation to pay this tax. Jesus is free from this tax because He is the Son. We are free because in the Son, we are sons (Galatians 3:26).
Our country was birthed crying, “No taxation without representation.” We are reborn rejoicing, “No taxation because of representation.” Jesus is the true Son, representing those chosen by the Father in the Son, to be adopted as sons. He takes our sin, we receive His righteousness. We are free. This isn’t freedom from a tyrannical Caesar. This is freedom in becoming a Son of the King; a generous King who gives His only begotten Son to make us sons. The Son was taxed, meaning He was put under the heaviest of strains, paying our ransom, so that we might be free. And “if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36).”