A number of years ago, my wife, Lauren, was working for a consulting firm. One of her clients was a synagogue which was conducting a large capital campaign. Each year, every member of the synagogue would meet with the rabbis and the finance team. At the meeting, members would bring their completed tax forms and, based on that information, determine what their annual giving to the synagogue would be. As a pastor, I had a very mixed reaction to this process (though I occasionally think our finance team might have a field day with it).
Jesus and Peter had been approached by religious tax collectors intending to collect a fee meant for the upkeep of the Temple. Every Jewish male was expected to pay this tax annually in addition to any other donations that they made to the Temple in fulfillment of the call to tithe and any other vows that had been made. Jesus’ response to whether or not they must pay this tax is that they were free not to do so, yet he also understood that they should pay it. This strategy connected to the reasons behind Jesus’ command to his disciples not to share what has become known as the Messianic Secret. Jesus wanted and needed to continue to work within the structures of Judaism at the time.