22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. 24 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?” 25 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?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 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.”
We have in our church folks who have been to Israel and who have visited Peter’s house in Caperneum. Fred Baltz writes of the site:
In the 19th Century the abandoned site of Capernaum was recognized and recovered from Bedouins. Excavations began in 1905. Franciscans Vendelin von Benden and Gaudenzio Orfali continued the work. These excavations uncovered the ruins of a synagogue and an octagonal church that had been destroyed by the early Seventh Century.
In 1968, Virgilio Corbo and Stanislao Loffreda resumed the work. They established that the central room of the octagonal church was from a First-Century B.C. Capernaum house which had become a place of worship for Christians from very early on. They also established that the white limestone synagogue was from the Fourth Century, probably built on the black basalt foundation of the synagogue from Jesus’ time.
The central room of the octagonal church had been plastered, re-plastered, and painted with intricate designs—remarkable and unique in Capernaum. Found on pieces of plaster were prayer expressions like “Lord Jesus, help your servant” and, “Christ have mercy”. There is debate about whether Peter’s name actually appears in the graffiti…
Baltz then offers an interesting observation about an intriguing find there:
It became clear that the use of the central room had changed with the passing years. The lowest level still held evidence from daily home life—lamps, coins, cooking pots. Even fish hooks were found in that lowest level.
That may sound insignificant—fish hooks—but those familiar with the biblical story will know that it is not. Peter was a fisherman. Jesus called him away from his nets in order to become a “fisher of men.” After the crucifixion Peter seemingly returned to his nets until Jesus appeared to him and commissioned him for greater things. So fishing was always kind of lurking around Peter.
But here in our text is one of the more curious fishing episodes in Peter’s life. And, strangely enough, it involved paying taxes!