Few places in scripture captivate me more than the times when Jesus creates the most illogical solution to a problem. In Matthew 17:27 we see that very thing happen as Jesus and the disciples are confronted by the temple tax collector demanding payment. Jesus, after instructing Peter, sends this disciple on a trust journey in order to get the provision they were in need of.
“We don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us!” Matt.11:27
Doesn’t this seem a bit arduous? I mean, Jesus can obviously make money appear, (hence the coin in the mouth of an unsuspecting fish). Then why doesn’t He just make it appear right then and there and save Peter the trip to the lake? As perplexing as Jesus’ method seems to be here, I think He’s working out a deeper purpose with Peter. The trip has little to do with money and everything to do with Peter.
Just a few verses back he taught His disciples that if they had faith, even as small as mustard seeds, they could accomplish great feats (see vs. 20).
Unless Peter missed that meeting, this is probably the practical application section of Jesus’ teaching on faith. And it happens to do with one area that is tough for all of us to trust someone in – financial provision.
Instead of providing what they needed right away Jesus sends Peter on a journey in which he must trust Jesus’ word in order to find the provision he needed.
Life can feel a lot like this journey sometimes; we want to step out and go for something big. We feel God tugging on our hearts calling us to come on the journey with Him but what often stands in the way? A formidable amount of expenses we just don’t see how we can pay at that particular time. Unexpected bills, costly emergencies, accidental financial oversights, although stressful, can all become opportunities for us to encounter our miracle working Father.
All needs are invitations to trust God and to see that He is still as faithful as He has always been.
In this case Jesus gives Peter some very specific instructions. Each step would have challenged Peter’s very practical, logical mind.
Go to the lake, step 1
Cast your fishing line, step 2
Believe you are going to catch a fish step 3
Open the mouth of that fish and there is your coin step 4
At each step I’m sure Peter thought, “Is this actually going to happen? What am I doing?”
But his part was to go…
God’s part was to create.
Jesus used fishing; the very thing Peter knew how to do very well, to lead him into a trust journey. Jesus wants to be able to bring us on similar journeys of faith regarding our provision. The finances we may need are never the real issue after all, our Father owns everything.
The issue is often in our ability to walk in trust with Him through each needed provision in order to come out the other side trusting Him more and having experienced His faithfulness.
If you feel like you are on a journey to get the finances you need, remember, Jesus does not intend to fail you in this. He wants to build your trust. He is looking for the chance to show you His goodness, power and faithfulness. He wants us to get to the place where, like David, we can recite the words of Ps. 23
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need” (NLT)
If faith like a mustard seed can move mountains, imaging how much more faith that is grown up and nurtured can accomplish? And this is the “big picture” Jesus is shooting for in these seemingly unnecessary miracles, to grow up His disciples in faith so they can change the world with Him. That was His plan for Peter and it’s His plan for us. Courageously follow Him and anchor yourself in the truth of His promises.