"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
May 6, 2009
In Matthew 17:24-27 we find that Jesus and His disciples had just arrived in Capernaum. Upon their arrival, the collectors of the temple tax came up to Peter and said, "Doesn't your Teacher pay the half-shekel?"
Peter answered, "Yes," then went to the house where Jesus was. Upon his arrival, Jesus spoke to him and asked, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly rulers collect duties or tribute; from their own sons or from others?"
When Peter said to Him, "From other people -- not their own family" - Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. However, in order not to give offense and cause them to stumble, go down to the sea and throw in a hook; take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find there a shekel. Take it and give it to them to pay the temple tax for Me and for yourself."
Some of the commentaries I read said that a temple tax was imposed upon either the head of every household or every Jewish male above a certain age. This money was used for the support of the temple. A half-shekel was two days' wage.
Jesus knew that He and Peter needed to pay this temple tax in order to not offend the collectors. He obviously had no money on hand or He would have just handed it over to Peter. And apparently, Peter also didn't have the money in which to pay the taxes. But Jesus knew His Father [God] would provide the needed funds.
There are a lot of scenarios that I could imagine, but getting the money from the mouth of a fish is not one of them. Perhaps since Peter was a fisherman, this was a miracle that Jesus knew that Peter would understand. Getting the money from the mouth of the fish was not for the benefit of the tax collectors, for they had no idea where the money came from. So I believe that this particular miracle had to have been for Peter's benefit.
Peter had spent his life as a fisherman. That's how he made his living, and he had spent hours upon hours in his boat out at sea. Yet he had never caught a fish with money in its mouth. If that was a normal occurrence, he could have just gone down to the sea and thrown out his line and got the money for himself. When he and the other disciples were traveling with Jesus and funds were low, they would have just gone fishing and taken the needed funds out of the mouths of fish. But fish don't swim around with coins in their mouths. If so, I'd take up fishing!
When Jesus tells Peter to go down to the sea and throw in a hook, and the first fish that comes up will have a shekel in its mouth; Peter obeyed. He didn't argue with Jesus that he had never seen that happen before, so it had to be impossible. He didn't try to figure out another way to get the needed shekel. He didn't sit down and worry because he didn't know how they were going to get the tax money. He wasn't concerned that he'd catch the wrong fish. No! When Jesus told him that he would find the money in the mouth of the first fish that he caught, Peter went fishing.
One commentary suggested that instead of God placing the coin in the mouth of the fish, perhaps a fisherman had lost the coin when he was out at sea and the fish was drawn to it and swallowed it. But he agreed that either way, whether God supernaturally placed the shekel in the mouth of the fish or whether the fish found it on the bottom of the sea and swallowed it, it was a true miracle. Jesus knew that the first fish that Peter caught on his hook would have the needed shekel in its mouth.
Too often we miss out on our miracle or answer to prayer, because we argue with God regarding the answer or the outcome. We don't want to go throw our hook out into the sea and expect our miracle to be in the mouth of the fish [so to speak], because that seems impossible to us. We limit God by our finite thinking. We try to reason out the best solution for our need, then expect God to follow our plan.
Also, there are times when we want God to just dump the answer into our laps without us having to do anything. We don't want to have to walk down to the sea, bait our hook and toss it into the water, then wait for the fish to bite. That takes too much time! Besides, after we catch the fish, we'd have to get our hands dirty and touch the fish and look inside its mouth, to take the coin out. It would be slimy and dirty and stinky. We might end up smelling like a fish afterwards. That's not very pretty and not to our liking.
Throughout the Bible, when supernatural things took place, people had to get involved and do something. They had to act in faith, then Jesus would respond with a miracle. Can Jesus act without us doing anything? Absolutely! But I believe that He wants us to show our trust and faith in Him by obeying and stepping out in faith.
If you are in need of a miracle today, know that nothing is too hard for God. Open your heart, be ready to respond in faith, and see what God will do in your life.
Not that it's important, but I wonder how big the fish was and how heavy the shekel was. About 4 days' pay might make it very difficult for a fish to swim, and most fish would likely spit it back out or be stuck at the sea floor.
We went to see Sea World. It really amazed us both how much diversity God created. Even in some of the seemingly least important animal groups, like starfish, there is a beautiful variety.
It's also amazing how much diversity there is in God's miracles. Healing all manner of infirmities would be great. But He also made water into wine, freed apostles from prison, made a donkey talk... And He can do whatever it is we need today.
1 (6 oz.) can frozen orange juice
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 tsp. Vanilla
10-12 ice cubes
Mix all ingredients in blender on high speed until ice is crushed and smooth.
Jon and I have recently returned from vacationing in San Antonio, TX. We had such a wonderful time.
While there, we visited the Tower of the Americas which was built in the early-1960's for the world's fair. It is 750 feet tall, and I believe it is the tallest building in San Antonio. You can ride an elevator to the top where there is an observation deck that overlooks the city. On the ground floor they have a 4-D ride called "Skies Over Texas". It lasts about 15 minutes, and on a big screen shows various sights and things that Texas is famous for. Your seats move around some and there are different effects during the short movie. For instance, it shows a rodeo scene and a bull runs towards the front of the screen and you feel a poke (like a bull horn) in the back of your seat. The very worst part of the whole thing was when they showed a rattlesnake. I am terrified of snakes; I don't even like seeing them inside a cage or on TV. First of all, when the rattlesnake came onto the screen and hissed, you felt a spurt of air hit the back of your neck. Of course it caught you off guard and almost everyone hollered and jumped. I was peeking out of one eye, waiting for the scene to change. I saw the snake moving away so started to relax, thinking that the movie was moving on to something else. All of a sudden the snake hisses again and you feel a shot of air hit the back of your legs. I hollered again and about flew out of my seat! Of course, my husband thought it was hilarious. Other than that, it was fun.
God intends for us to enjoy life; not just tolerate it.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon