Thrive: Knowing When to Stir – Lauren Brewer Bass


After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
—Matthew 17: 24-27

Seems like Jesus doesn’t want to give offense. “Um, Jesus, why not?” After all, Jesus wasn’t a fan of the temple regime, and he realized that soon he will be killed. But here Jesus goes out of his way to avoid offense.

At first glance, I would rather Jesus have come down hard on the religious establishment. He certainly could do it with a flourish when he felt like it, or when he felt like the time was right. Timing, it turns out, is everything. Jesus would later go into the temple and flip those tables right over, but for now he sends Peter out with a fishing pole.

Normally, I would rather Jesus just dish the ridiculous religious leaders some sass, and shut them down. He’s right. They’re wrong. Yet, Jesus is much more subtle and strategic than that in this situation. Jesus knows when to stir things up and when to not take things too seriously.

Jesus knows what I often don’t—that sometimes the Kingdom of God looks a lot less like shutting people down and a lot more like getting on with the creative work of confronting the powers that be by singing the old spirituals, by carrying the bags of opposing military forces longer than you have to, by telling stories, by developing friendships, by sharing a fish.

IFLauren Brewer Bass has worked with a refugee resettlement agency, on staff at a church, with nonprofits that assist individuals experiencing homelessness, and on staff at an outdoor adventure company. She has traveled to 41 countries, including Spain where she walked a 500-mile pilgrimage across the Iberian Peninsula. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Logsdon Seminary in Abilene, Texas, and currently lives and works in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, David, where she writes, gardens, and drinks too much coffee.

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  1. Mary James says

    Thanks, Lauren, for this good reminder!