The coin in my hand above is a Tyrian shekel from the time of Christ. Tyrian shekels are fascinating because they were the only currency able to be used to pay the temple tax – each year a Jewish male above the age of 20 voluntarily paid a half shekel to the temple. So when Peter was told by the Lord to catch a fish and pay the temple tax for the two of them, it was a Tyrian shekel.
The face on the Tyrian shekel is the Phoenician god Melqart or Baal, often referred to as Beelzebub by the Jews. So why would the rabbis force the people to pay the sacred temple tax with coins bearing the likeness of a false god? It all had to do with money – you see, many different silver coins were in circulation at the time and they all had varying levels of silver content. The Tyrian shekels were the most pure, so the rabbis decided that receiving the maximum of silver was important enough to overlook the false god on the face of the coins.
The next time the Tyrian shekel is mentioned in the New Testament is the infamous 30 pieces of silver. When Judas betrayed the Savior the chief priests paid him 30 Tyrian shekels from the temple treasury.
Whenever I hold the Tyrian shekel in my hand I think of how pathetic a price was paid to Judas to convince him to betray the Master. Then I think, “What is my price?” What price – what currency bearing the image of the father of lies – has to be offered to me to convince me to betray my Savior to pain and suffering. I know that Christ suffered unimaginable pain because of my sins and yet how easily do I fall back into those same sins, time and time again.
So what is my price – is it the pitiful lure of anger, pride or the flickering images on a computer screen? Am I willing to cause suffering to my Savior just so that I can lie of cheat or steal? What is your price?
Yet even though I feel such sadness at these thoughts, I am always overwhelmed by the knowledge that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Creator of the universe loves me. Even though I cause Him suffering every day of my life, He loves me still. On this Easter Sabbath we remember that He suffered and died for each of us. He rose from the grave for each of us. He broke the bands of death and removed death’s sting – He did it for me and He did it for you.