I woke up this morning at 8am. I am starting to see a bit of an unhealthy pattern developing.
Thankfully, no one was waiting on me to meet them for a morning run (like yesterday), but I don’t usually sleep in that late. Admittedly, it was a glorious sleep-in. The extra hours of sleep were probably extra helpful since I was not able to fall asleep until a little after 2am. I don’t yet feel like I am quite back to normal after being in Colorado for a week.
I had a great (late) morning. I drank a cup of coffee, read the daily Bible reading (Matthew 16-18), and then went out to mow my sopping wet, way-too-long grass. That was a task. Ah… the joys of being out of town for a week.
I was able to get my 3.1 miles in around noon. I got to run with my buddy, Broc. Good times! We were actually able to get a little more than a 5k. We had about an hour to fill, so we made it 7.2 miles in 52 minutes and 23 seconds. That is an average pace of 7:12 per mile. It wasn’t the Rocky Mountains, but we still saw a little over 450 feet of elevation gain in a little over 7 miles. Breathing was definitely easier at 1,200 feet than it was at 9,200!
There was so much to love from today’s Bible reading. For some reason, I love reading about the transfiguration. That whole scenario is just so cool. Oh to be a witness up there on the mountain!
Of course, I am also always blown away by the words of Jesus at the end of chapter 16:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” – Matthew 16:24-27
Wow. That is pretty straightforward.
My favorite part of today’s reading, though, comes from Matthew 17. It is a fairly obscure passage:
When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” – Matthew 17:24-27
Why does this stand out to me so much? Obviously it is super cool that Jesus is able to send Peter off to gather a coin from the mouth of a fish. So cool.
But I’m seeing something else in this passage. I see Jesus as a Youth Pastor!
What?! How did I get that?!
Let’s quickly head back to Exodus to get an understanding of this “Temple Tax”:
Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as an offering to the LORD. Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the LORD’s offering. – Exodus 30:13-14
Do you see it?
The Temple Tax is half a shekel each (one for Peter and one for Jesus). That much is plain in Matthew 17:27. This passage seems to indicate that ONLY Peter and Jesus were required to pay the temple tax… which means… that only Peter and Jesus were “twenty years old and upward” (see Exodus 30:14).
This tells me that Jesus was essentially a Youth Pastor, with one adult leader (Peter), and eleven teenagers in his youth group (and one of those teenagers was a really bad student)! With that one adult leader and eleven students, Jesus was able to change the world!
I spent nearly 10 years as a Youth Pastor. I never saw that position as a “stepping stone” into “real ministry”. I saw myself as walking in the footprints of Jesus! Admittedly, I was not nearly as good or effective at it as Jesus was, but it was a real privilege and an honor to follow in his footsteps.
This passage reminds me of the priorities and plan of God. He is in the business of using the least, the lowly, the overlooked, the most unlikely, and empowering them to do something amazing to the glory of God!!