The History of Simon Peter: 5. Relationship with the Son

Matthew 17:24‑27  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
AT 17:24-27{Peter had seen on the mount men associated with Christ in the kingdom glory; then, entering into the cloud, he had been permitted to hear the expression of the Father's delight in His beloved Son. Here in the scene of the tribute money the Lord associates Peter with Himself, not in future glory, nor in present heavenly enjoyment, but down here on the earth as a son of God, walking in the consciousness of his dignity as a son.
When the Lord showed to the disciples His companions in glory there came a moment when they disappeared, making room for Jesus only, so that the glory of Christ, more excellent than that of Moses, might be recognized as pre-eminent; but when the Lord associates Peter with Himself as son He sets him and keeps him in the same relationship as Himself to the Father. Three sentences give expression to this blessed relationship: " Then are the children free; " " Lest we should offend them; " and, " Give unto them for Me and thee."
How little we realize and appreciate this. To be a son of God, in the same relationship to Him as Jesus is as Man, would be incredible and impossible were it not affirmed to us by God. At the same time let us hasten to add that Christ is Son of God under two aspects. As the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father He has a relationship which is not and never will be ours; but as Man He is called Son of God (Psa. 2; Luke 1:3535And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)), and sets us in this relationship, with this difference only between Him and us, that it belongs to Him in virtue of His personal dignity and worth (when Jesus comes into the world God greets Him with these words, " Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee "), while we are sons solely in virtue of His work. But it is marvelous to think that our relationship is absolutely the same as His. " My Father, and your Father; My God, and your God." " Ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Compare Mark 14:3636And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mark 14:36)) " Heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ."
But, alas! here as elsewhere poor Peter's wretched heart is laid bare. When he said, " Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee," his thoughts were human; that is to say, Satanic. As if Jesus could have contemplated self-preservation. On the mount Peter did not know what he said. (Luke 9:3333And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. (Luke 9:33)) It was ignorance, seeking to make a present out of a future scene. One might compare Peter's words, " It is good for us to be here," with those of Christians in our day who look for the reign of Christ on earth by the gospel during the present economy. Besides, in his ignorance he brought in another authority alongside of Christ; and, as I have already stated, it was like multitudes of Christians who mix law and grace-grace being what saves us, and the law our rule of life. Peter's earthly thoughts were an offense to Christ, and He rebuked him severely; but on the mount God in grace meets his ignorance (what condescension!) by setting Christ before him as the only One to whom he should listen.
In the scene of the tribute money we find Peter anxious to claim for his Master the character of a zealous Jew. This is somewhat similar to the attempt often made nowadays of accommodating Christ to the religion of a world which has rejected Him, in order that He may be accepted, acknowledged, and honored. Peter did not wish Jesus to be treated as a stranger in the official system, nor that He should seem to separate Himself from it. The Lord showed him that He walked before God, and not before a system. If Christ was thenceforth a stranger to the Jewish system, it was that the latter was estranged from God; whereas Jesus was a Son before God. More than this, the Lord of the temple ought not to pay tribute for the temple. He the Creator, who had all power over creation, could not be compared to the creature. He to whom even a fish from the depths of the sea brought tribute ought not to pay tribute.
When man is delivered over to himself how miserable are his best thoughts concerning Christ. Thus the Lord in His communications is never able to recognize Peter's intelligence, except in the case where he received a direct revelation from the Father which flesh and blood could not have taught him. But, as we have said, the folly of the disciple is met by grace. The Sovereign accepts this position of humiliation which was not His by right so as not to offend them. He does not combat a system abandoned by God, though not yet judged. He who was already in reality rejected would not offend those who had rejected Him. Though a Son, He yet accepts the place of dependence given Him.
Moreover, He will not, by refusing to pay tribute, humiliate and belie His poor disciple before the world. What condescension!
He does more than this. In His answer He reveals to Peter his association with Christ as Son of the sovereign God. On the mount the disciples had received the revelation of the Father concerning the Son; here Jesus reveals to Peter a marvelous family relationship. They are both sons of God; but Peter is a son only in virtue of the fact that Christ humbled Himself to save us. Such blessings are present ones. On the mount three poor fishermen, sunk in fear, sleep, and ignorance, were called to enter into the Father's house to hear His expression of delight in His Son; here at Capernaum we see a poor, weak disciple whose human zeal to honor Christ has the effect of lowering Him, called as he was to walk with Him always in humility, yet also in the consciousness of the dignity of a son of God. H. R.