[Matthew 17 – The Message]
Even at the transfiguration, they were trying to understand the difference between the role of the prophet and the reality of a savior. Again they are sworn to secrecy – until the resurrection. And Jesus tries once more to differentiate prophet (Elijah, come again in John) from the miracle of God-among-us.
Is it that we set our aspirations too low? We cannot cast out demons because we give them too much power – or else we ascribe too little power to God. The terrible just seems too terrible – and the betrayal and crucifixion will seem to confirm that for a while. Only Jesus can see beyond those limits.
What follows all that is a conversation about taxes. Strangely, for Jesus, it is still part of the larger conversation. Perhaps it always is. He wants us to know our identity as children of God. Then pay the taxes, not out of servitude but in service of a greater cause – leaving aside the petty squabbles so that there is room for what counts. Money means little one way or the other, anyway – it is yourselves that are the currency of God – the coin of the other realm, stamped with the image of God – to be joyfully spent in God’s abundant economy.