Parable of the King’s Sons Free from Tribute

Parable in Matthew 17. Not used liturgically, but is very important. It implies Christ’s claim to Divine Sonship (admitted by all commentators except such extremists as hold that the Christ of the Synoptists holds out no such claim). The time is after the Transfiguration; the place Capharnaum, probably the house of Peter; the occasion: the attempt to collect from Christ the annual temple tax, ordained by “the Law” (Exodus 30). Peter had hastily assured the collector that his master would pay it. Christ coming into the house confronted Peter (ere he could inform him of the incident) with the question: whether the king’s sons must pay tribute and custom. The answer supposed is: No. Thus Christ plainly declared that he claimed to be “the son of Jehovah; the God of Israel, to whom the temple tax was due.” By theological reasoning the parable may be proved to teach, moreover, that the apostles, too, as Christ’s family, are free. Hence the “we” in Christ’s answer: “that we may not scandalize.” This may teach us further that the law of evangelical freedom must not be abused so as to scandalize the little ones.