Suppose you gave some money to a friend or family member to buy something in a store. The person goes to the store, buys what you asked for, and also decides to buy some things for himself. When he comes back to you, you communicate your disappointment. He responds back to you, “But I gave you your change and did what you asked for – what are you mad about?” This is our life with God.
God gives us everything we have, every single breath, our very souls’ existence is due to Him. He has given us our time, talent, and treasure for a purpose – to use for His mission on earth. As we live this mission we are perfectly fulfilled. But we use His gifts for other things; we use His gifts for ourselves, and miss the point. When the Lord calls us on it – we are upset with Him – we have done what He wanted, and gave Him the change – isn’t that enough?
In these verses a dispute comes up about paying the Temple tax. Jesus uses the occasion to remind the disciples Who He is – the King, God, does not need to pay the Temple tax – it is being paid TO Him (and it was He who provided the money, too). Jesus reminds them that He is the King, and the Provider – sending Peter to work (fishing) to get the coin He put there (cutting the “sales” part of fishing out of the equation). Jesus is the King – and yet He is willing to die, heading to the cross. Christ shows us that life itself is from God, and must be laid down for the mission – that is what fulfills our lives, no matter what the cost.
Can I actually do this? Can I see everything in my life as belonging to Him? Can I even see my family, my wife, everything as second to Him? That is ultimately a much tougher question than we think about, but one I am convinced I need to ask myself every day. This is His day, His time, His possessions – in my control, for His mission.