“‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?’ Peter said to Him, ‘From strangers.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then the sons are free.’” (Mt. 17:25-26)
At least part of what Jesus is implying here is that since the disciples are “sons” they don’t really owe the tax. The principle here is that sons are privileged; they are not outsiders. They are favorites; they are accepted, welcomed, and treated as princes. And that is what occurs here at the table of the Lord. You are sons and daughters of the king; you are all accepted in the Son as sons. And you are accepted as you are. You are accepted freely. You are welcomed here as part of the royal family. And there are at least two responses to this declaration that are unacceptable. First, you may not look down your row or in front of you or behind you and silently judge whether or not you think others should be welcomed to this table. The gospel is the declaration that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. So those sinners in your family, those sinners down the row, those are sinners that Christ bled and died for. This body was broken for sinners; this blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins. And this leads to the second, do not think that you have ever gone beyond the grace of God. Do not think that your sins are too great for God, do not give up in despair over sins that you just don’t seem to be able to overcome. Don’t come to this table resigned to just deal with the status quo. Jesus is the Lord of this table, and it is his Spirit that feeds you on the flesh and blood of Jesus. You are eating and drinking the power of God to deliver from sin. You are feasting upon the perfect sacrifice, that once for all offering that completely satisfied the justice of God. And more than that, as you feast upon this well-beloved Son of the Father, you are more and more joined to Him. You are in Christ, his blood flows through your veins, his face is in your face, his words are your words. And this is the way that God has decided to remake you, remake your family, and completely renovate the entire world. It’s with the simple question: do you believe? Do you believe that crucified man is the salvation of the world? Do you believe that his blood was shed for your sins and the sins of many? Then come and rejoice. You are beloved sons, and the sons are free. Your sins are forgiven. You are clean. You owe God nothing but deep thanksgiving and gratitude. Some come and rejoice and give thanks.