The fishy tax payment by Jesus & Peter


God, includes Jesus, doesn’t want any human being to pay taxes on illegally enacted and antisocial legislations and their Rules etc. – Would that be a truthful statement?

I have to quote the whole passage to refresh my memory of those verses, which might even lead to serendipitous discovery of a missed understanding of Christianity.

Matthew 17:24…

24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

The three words which need to be defined are

1. Tribute

2. Custom

3. Money

Tribute” in Roman times, referred to a certain sum periodically paid to the Victor/Captor country by the vanquished country, which was collected from the citizens of the vanquished country, for making such payments to the Victor country.

Custom“ refers to the taxes imposed on goods which were brought from outside jurisdictions, which is ultimately collected from the purchaser of the goods but is levied on the seller at the time of him bringing those goods into the customs levying jurisdiction. Customs is prepaid before the sale mostly, but definitely before delivery.

Money“ is the most difficult to define as its functions are more important than what it was originally intended for. If one were to ask a bitcoiner, he would say that Money is a medium for store of value. If one reads the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle- which defines Money as a measure of value for equitable exchange of goods and services, then it is ‘measure of value’.

But from this passage of the Bible, Jesus looks into the purpose of deployment of such money. Jesus looks into the ‘taxation’ carried out by the Romans on the Israelites – one is a ‘tribute tax’ the other being ‘custom’ – a tax levied on goods brought into from other jurisdictions.

Jesus asks Peter, do the kings levy tribute and customs on their citizens? Peter says: No. That’s because a country doesn’t levy ‘tribute’ on its own citizens, because sovereign citizens don’t have to pay tribute, Israel then being a vassal state was bound to pay the agreed indemnity amount called Tribute.

Therefore, when Jesus visited Capernaum, He and Peter had to pay taxes as they were from Galilee.

Jesus does something amazing at this moment:

1. Compliance without conviction

2. Payment for such taxes are made out of resources generated NOT OUT OF ONE’S SWEAT OR TOIL

Jesus tells Peter, let us not offend the Tax Collectors therefore let us pay the Tribute. Jesus didn’t believe in the Tribute imposed on him, yet He complied with that unjust tax being levied on a citizen whose country had become a vassal state.

The way Jesus defrays the tax obligation is even more interesting: He tells Peter to catch fish by dropping a hook – not a net. In all the other instances where fishing was involved Jesus always talks of casting the net, but when it comes to paying those unjust taxes, He instructed Peter to drop a hook and catch that fish which came up first, open its mouth and find a ‘piece of money’ and that piece of money was instructed to be used for making payment of the Tribute Tax.

If we read this as a whole, this incident shows that the unjust claims of the puppet governments need NOT be met out of the hard earned resources but out of the miscellaneous gains made during the course of one’s engagement in the society. Not all obligations are lawful but they have to be met – so don’t waste the money given by the devotees, disciples and benefactors.

I would also like to narrate what would have happened after the fish was caught:

Jesus would have instructed Peter to release the first fish caught once the piece of money was recovered from its mouth. The purpose of that fish swallowing the piece of money was to deliver the same to fulfill the unjust obligations imposed on Jesus. That fish should NOT be sold or eaten immediately. After all even the Jealous God the Father, in one of the commandments had instructed that ‘Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk’ (Exodus 34:26). Why was that Commandment given – the kid which ought to be nourished on its mother’s milk should not be used to boil the kid! Don’t yoke together LIFE and DEATH. Don’t take the benefit of Life from a person and use that to kill the person! It was that mental COMPASSION, which has withstood the rest of time and exalted the Name above every other Name!

Likewise the fish which was designated to deliver the piece of money, shouldn’t be used for consumption immediately – though it could be caught later by fishers for eating purposes.

Bathsheba’s first son


Bathsheba’s first son, before being named, had died. The death of the child was because of the crimes of his ‘father’ David, which God attributed to be sinful – rather sin unto death, which even according to the Mosaic law was punishable with death.

The child’s mother was not merely complicit but an active participant. Bathsheba had no option but to inform David of the unwanted pregnancy, as that would show up in time and she may have to use much imagination to not only explain her pregnancy but also name the adulterer. So she informed David, David thereafter tried to legitimise the child to pass it off as Uriah caused pregnancy – though there might have been a full term baby again passed off as a premature one.

David causes not only the mistake of wanting to get Uriah killed in the battle – which is against all norms of brotherhood- but gives instructions in writing to Joab. The carrier of the letter is Uriah Himself. What a heartless blackguard, Adultery had made out of David. A death warrant is delivered for execution through the hands of the person who is to be executed. And Uriah is still unaware of the happenings in the capital, while he was busy besieging the Ammonite frontiers in all sincerity and innocence. The Hittite had married a woman, who was not merely beautiful but a sharp one too.

The wretch refuses to go to his house to share the conjugal bed, who would have otherwise been welcomed to his conjugal bed with another man’s child already there in the same bed! The reason for his refusal is noble, though incredible. David probably for the first time in his life wanted a woman, with whom he had had a relationship, to sleep with his full consent. In fact David was eager that the sojourning nuptials took place, worse still he was disappointed that it didn’t happen.

David’s name would be revealed if Bathsheba’s pregnancy came to light, what were the options before David?

David could have got Bathsheba eliminated, Could have tried to eliminate the child or could have eliminated Uriah. Thank God that David didn’t Report to the first option!

The next question is, even if Uriah died in the battle, How would Bathsheba explain the pregnancy without exposing herself and her seducer/paramour to the charges of adultery. Death of Uriah cannot cause the pregnancy, and tongues would wag. But why didn’t they wag- when the child was born?

I am at loss to understand that. But David had played the role of a defender of Israel for so long that people would have connived at the sacrifice of a Hittite in the altar of David’s adultery! Probably! After all when God promised the land of the Hittites to the Israelites, David along with the other Israelites must have imagined that Hittite women went along with their lands!

That the first child of Bathsheba could not have been Uriah’s must have been a fact. A fact which came to the ears of Nathan the prophet, who confronted David. Thereafter it is through the same Nathan that the commutation of the sentence is conveyed – in which one of the commuted sentence was the most convenient one. Their symbol of adultery would die! Never was a choice of sentence so convenient!

I think David made a great show to impress Bathsheba inside the palace, but was relieved that the child of adultery had died . Even his natural reaction was beautifully romanticised – “i can go to him but he cannot come to me”. I wish David has shown this understanding when Absalom died.

But there the purpose was different, he had to show the people that Absalom’s death was because of the highhandedness and disobedience of Joab, which made David attractive to the people so that he could be welcomed back.

The nameless child was dead. Bathsheba legitimately produces another son and named him Solomon. Solomon’s uterine Elder Brother had exited in haste, all because Prophet Nathan told David: you shall not die, but the child shall.

Now we all know from the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus that there was a possibility of communication between Abraham’s blossom and hell.

So let us for a minute imagine that David, Uriah, Bathsheba, and their first son had identified each other from whichever part of the hell or heaven these four were..

Let me stop here and take a guess as to who might have been where?

Uriah the dutiful cuckold, would have been granted Abraham’s bosom as a compensation for all the ignominy suffered at the hands of David and Bathsheba!
David, though had committed sins into death, as he had regularly sought God’s forgiveness and Grace, as a pardoned sinner might have to be, as he himself had prayed, granted at least a doorkeeper’s place in the Lord’s house.
The innocent child who paid for the crimes and sins of his father and mother has to be in Abraham’s bosom.

That leaves us with Bathsheba, i am yet to discover s single reason for her to gain paradise. But as we know from the parable, they all can see each other, recognise each other, and remember their relationships back in the earth.

Applying that formula, if David had met Uriah, what would have been Uriah’s reaction?

Uriah would have probably said, My Lord why didn’t you order me to go to my home and stay that night. And the second night when you got me drunk you could have me force-lifted and dropped me in my house- but why did you get me killed by the Ammonites?

I wonder what answer David could have made, especially if Bathsheba has been within the earshot of their conversation!

What would have been the conversation between Bathsheba and Uriah?

Probably Bathsheba would have told him: when you were happy even taking orders from David’s servant Joab, why would i not be happy serving the King?

Uriah could have retorted: when you had no qualms to go to the King’s house, why didn’t you come to the Kings courtyard and intimate me that you had built a bond with the King, in my absence, and that you were laden with the consequences thereof in your womb?

Bathsheba’s silence must have been deafening or Bathsheba would have said, in the last count i was David’s wife and I had seen more life with David and you have no right to take up the past which was the last for you, but for me that was just the beginning of Life! See there, he was my son Solomon, whom i made him the king. I was bestowed by God to bear princes and Kings, and i used it. You were merely a person who had to build a house close to the palace so that when i bathed, the King could see me from his palace top. You did your job and departed, when you had to.

David was amused.

The innocent child asked Bathsheba: Mom would i have been made the King had i survived?

Bathsheba said, i don’t know, but had you lived long enough to be there at the time of the death of David, i would have played as sharp as i had played for Solomon. In all probability you would have been the King instead of Solomon. But i should warn you that Joab, though a dedicated servant of your father David, would have played dirty, as i believe he had preserved that letter which David had written to get my then husband Uriah killed.

Peter came and saw them all and told them: I have told you all never to meet up as that would destroy the history which had been propagated. You people have created the biggest scandal in the history of Israel. I don’t want to see any two of you together again.

Shun these meetings of review of history, let history remain the way it has been written.

Get back to your respective mansion and be happy.

Paul upbraiding the Chief Apostle Peter!


Whenever I launch on my brand of Christianity, which is that John’s Gospel is the first preferred book of the Bible and Matthew, the next: i have brickbats aimed at me, and some have even let loose the much misused verse, “ALL SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY THE INSPIRATION OF GOD AND IS PROFITABLE FOR DOCTRINE, REPROOF, CORRECTION …..etc.etc.” For me a SUPER EVANGELIST is still lesser than an APOSTLE, who was not only chosen by Jesus himself, but even after the death & resurrection of Jesus propagated Christ and told what they had heard with their own ears.

Paul of Tarsus upbraids Peter, the apostle who was the most daring and action oriented disciple of Jesus Christ. That narration could be seen in Galatians Chapter 2 verses 11 onwards:

11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[d] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

This upbraiding was, in my opinion unworthy of a proselytized Christian who did not have the benefit of the WORD IN FLESH. Further, when the Phoenician woman asks Jesus, while He was in the flesh, for the cure of her daughter, He said,

“But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” (Matt:15:26)

But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. (Mark 7:27)

Matthew, a disciple of Jesus, while in the flesh, had no axe to grind after the resurrection of Jesus to tell something which he did not hear, therefore I suppose Matthew’s narration has authenticity and verity. Whereas, Mark, was first a disciple of Peter and then of Paul and I see more reason to adjust the FACTS to be in harmony with their doctrine. These adjustments may be in line with the present day thinking, but for Matthew who saw and followed Jesus, there would have been no necessity to accommodate the morale of the gentiles, like Paul and his disciples had to!

Jesus said, “Salvation is of the Jews.” (John4:22), which is very clear and as Khalil Gibran says about one’s children in his “PROPHET”: “They come through you but not from you, they are life’s longing for itself”, it is the preposition OF, which spells from where the salvation is to emanate and such salvation is not FOR the Jews only.

One should call into reference Jesus’ many parables, one of which is that the king made a big feast and invited guests but none having turned up, sent his men and collected people from the streets and idlers for the marriage feast. But when one invitee was found without the wedding clothes, Jesus did not say that since he was an invitee, he could come to the dinner without preparation. Even if one is invited, one cannot enter certain places without being WORTHY of that august company to which one has been invited! (Matt 22:5-14)

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This parable shows that the Jews were the original INVITEES, but because they did not turn up, citing one flimsy ground after another, the invitation was extended to the gentiles also. This doesn’t mean that the gentiles could go in because of an INVITATION, the gentiles had to be prepared.

So in my humble opinion, Paul was too eager to get in the gentiles into the fold without preparation, all in the name of FAITH, but the Jacobean WORKS was also important.

So that leads to the next question whether eating with or being seen eating with the gentiles was proscribed by CHRIST? My answer is that it is most important that there are some etiquette  which are necessarily to be followed. Let us cut back and go to the feast organized by Joseph for his brothers in Egypt, Joseph did not want to be seen eating with the shepherdic Jews and did not eat with his own brothers for a while. Peter was merely NOT WANTING TO DISTURB THE FLEDGLING FAITH OF THE JERUSALEMITES, Jerusalem was the core. There was no reason, much less, any authority vested nor did Paul have the heritage to go ballistic and write such an epistle to Galatians proclaiming his doctrine and how he upheld his beliefs, even before the centre. According to me  he broke ranks and even if that was forgivable, he did not have the courtesy of deference to an Apostle like Peter, who despite his impulsive nature  was chosen by Jesus, after having seen through the heart of Peter. At I Timothy 5 :1 , Paul says:

Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;


But Paul doesn’t seem to have practised what he was prone to PREACHING. But, who am I to judge? Yet I have to choose a Christian path, which is : to wisely make choices like a serpent, yet to be INNOCENT like a dove in, ACTION. And therefore I WEIGH to CHOOSE! Even if I have done something wrong in such weighing, may the Lord be merciful to me.

Paul to me was a messenger of God to the non-Jews, but Peter was chosen as the ROCK on which Jesus brought every believer. Peter’s ability to REPENT as soon as he realized; the trust he had to try walking on water – can you imagine the TRUST he had in Jesus? No other disciple dared, but Peter did it! He was shown in his utterly human weakness so that I do not glory in my flesh, but depend on His Grace. If Jesus died for me, Peter trusted and DID, but he could not sustain and thereby has shown that my failings do not have to hinder my access to God. Thomas by his doubting, has cleared my ‘fundamental’ doubts!

Paul is a bundle of contradictions of a dying Pharisaical attitude, with a relentlessly emerging CHRISTIAN CONSCIOUSNESS. And Paul chose his company – Paul tonsured his head because of a vow- WOW! But it is his EFFORT, which surpasses all his defects. Yet Paul is no norm for a Christian.

 

LOVE & FEAR!


There is this beautiful passage which appears in Chapter V of The Book of ACTS in the New Testament of the BIBLE. I would like to remind the reader that these things happened after Jesus was crucified and resurrected and Peter was running the nascent Christian fellowship in Israel (or whatever was left of it then!)

1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.

 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

   “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

 9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

PETER, as could be seen from the various incidents reported in the Gospels, was an IMPULSIVE PERSON. Not only that he was IMPULSIVE, but also a WILLFUL person. No doubt, he suffered a lot for Jesus and if God had forgiven him who am i to judge? Yet, Peter along with the NEOPHYTE Paul, who declared himself to be the Apostle of the Gentiles had brought in a brand of Christianity, which in reverberating through the centuries and has become the stumbling block on which many a church foundations had been/ are being  laid.

If i believe JESUS LIVES, i cannot submit to the belief that Peter had a better claim to Christianity than i have as a Christian merely on the grounds that Peter lived in the flesh along with Jesus in flesh.

JESUS SAID, “SELL ALL THAT YOU HAVE, GIVE IT TO THE POOR AND FOLLOW ME.”

Jesus did not want to benefit from the sale proceeds of anything which  anyone had who followed Him. Of course His daily needs were met by many people around Him, but at no time did He command that anyone should sell something and hand over the proceeds  to Judas. Jesus was supreme, whenever he wanted a colt he sent for it and told his disciples as at MATT 21. 3  :And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. Whenever Jesus wanted food he asked and took. Once  bread and fish was furnished by a small boy which  fed many and Jesus must have packed the boy a load out of the fragments of twelve baskets gathered after feeding those thousands! JESUS was a GIVER not a TAKER. HE definitely did not want to take from those who intended to follow Him.

I do remember that Abram (later renamed ABRAHAM), after he had pursued the 4 kings and recovered all and returned the goods to the King of Sodom, Abraham said: Genesis 14: 21-24

21 Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’— 24 except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”

If Abram wouldn’t take would JESUS take, who said, “BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS I AM!” That is the brand of Christianity that Jesus wanted. But Peter and Paul had IMMEDIATE interests and the victims were ANANIAS and SAPPHIRA! That brand of Christianity still continues and would till kingdom come. Peter and Paul built a Church based on FEAR, but that is not what Jesus wanted. He wanted people to give up their attachment to wealth and if that attachment were to be an impediment to their spiritual life, then they had to sell and come out of that ATTACHMENT.Let me give the prime examples of  Jesus’ disciples who were wary of declaring themselves as His disciples: one was Joseph of Arimathea and the other was Nicodemus. They were RICH, but that did not come in the way of their following Jesus. Moreover, when Zacchaeus wanted to sell half of his goods and give to the poor, Jesus did not want a share in that! That was Jesus, but look at the followers who had turned CHRISTIANITY into THREATENING BEGGARY!

NOW MANY SUFFER FROM THIS FEAR- WHAT WILL THE PRIEST SAY? WHAT WILL THE PREACHER SAY? WHAT WILL THE PASTOR SAY? WHAT WILL THE BISHOP SAY?WHAT WILL THE CARDINAL SAY? WHAT WILL THE ARCH BISHOP SAY? WHAT WILL THE POPE SAY?

Instead CHRISTIANITY should be a free flowing offering made out of gratitude or LOVE. That would be Christianity. There was more GRATITUDE shown when the woman opened an alabaster box of ointment and wouldn’t stop wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair. THE MASTER SEES THE HEART.

LOVE EXPRESSES but FEAR REVEALS.

PHILOSOPHY


The following is the analysis of Philosophy and the evolution thereof according to Nietzsche:-

In every philosophical school, three thinkers succeed one another in the following way: the first produces out of himself the sap and seed, the second draws it out into threads and spins a synthetic web, the third waits in this web for the sacrificial victims that are caught in it- and tries to live off philosophy.

Nothing can be truer than this epigrammatic statement. Let us take the example of the trio Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Socrates had to consume hemlock before his Philosophy sprouted in the youth of Athens. Plato drew the thread and spun the synthetic web of UTOPIA and Aristotle with his ETHICS waited with hope for the sacrificial victims.

Let us come to Christianity, where Jesus produced out of himself the sap and seed, then Peter spun the web and Paul through his specific advice to the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Thessalonians, Romans etc. along with his votaries got his sacrificial victims. Not for nothing we have the Idiom ROB PETER TO PAY PAUL!

Even in Politics, the same  holds good. E V Ramasami Periyar had sown the seeds of  Dravidian movement: C N Annadurai drew thread and spun a synthetic web and I do not want to mention the third name, who waited for the sacrificial victims and made a good life for himself.

Nietzsche stands unparalleled in EPIGRAMMATIC TRUTHS.