An Unusual Miracle by Jesus
Remember the temple tax Jesus owed according to the law of Capernaum in Matt 17?
When you or I don’t have the money for an unexpected expense, we borrow it.
Jesus, however, never did anything that ordinary. Instead, He told Peter to go fishing.
27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” (Matt 17:27 NIV)
But not this time.
And the directions Jesus gave on how to find the money for the tax? Utter nonsense—yet Peter went. Grabbing his fishing gear, he headed out the door to keep his “date of fishy destiny.” Was God’s water-dwelling messenger “caught and released?”
We’ll never know.
I believe Jesus’ eyes lit up with laughter as He watched his apostle leave. Faith and trust always delight our Savior and Peter showed both.
Consider too, that Jesus could have provided the tax money in a much more ordinary way, like telling Simon Peter to check for coins under a certain rock—but where would be the fun in that?
The First Fish Tale
Of course, this isn’t the first time Jesus suggested Peter should “go fishing.”
Jesus stepped into one of the boats and asked Simon and his crew to pull a little away from the shore, so he could finish speaking to the crowd.
But then this unknown rabbi turned to these experienced, life-long fishermen and said something very strange:
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:4-5 NIV)
Skeptical but obedient, Peter steered his boat back out into deeper water. An experienced fisherman, he knew his craft and he knew the best time to catch fish—but he didn’t yet know Jesus.
Can you picture our Savior secretly gleeful? I can. He sat watching as the tired and discouraged fishermen tossed the nets over the boat’s side one more time.
Suddenly every net filled with fish, so many that the nets started to break. Frantically signaling the second boat to come help them, the fishermen—and maybe Jesus too—hauled in so many fish both boats began to sink. Were the men laughing and excited about this amazing once-in-a-lifetime catch?
Yes—and I believe Jesus laughed with them.
Then suddenly Peter understood who was standing beside him in the boat. In Jesus’ time, the Jews believed only a truly godly man would have enough of God’s favor to perform miracles.
That day, Peter, James and John became Jesus’ first disciples—and changed the world.
The Last Fish Tale
The fishing miracle I enjoy most comes after Jesus’ resurrection. In John 21:1-14. Jesus came to his disciples for the third time, after rising from the dead.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (John 21:4-6 NIV)
When Jesus plays a practical joke, it’s always lighthearted, sweet-spirited and fun.
The Resurrected Jesus could have just appeared to his disciples when they came ashore. Instead, He suddenly floods the net with fish, to reveal who “the stranger on the beach” is.
This miracle always makes me laugh. Did Jesus really tell His disciples that they were fishing off the wrong side of the boat? “Hey fellas, let me give you a tip; the fish are all hanging out on the right side of the boat. None of them are swimming over there on your left.”
As soon as the net filled up John cried, “It’s the Lord!” Immediately, Peter got dressed and then jumped overboard into the sea.
His time with Jesus had taught him to abandon amazing catches whenever the Messiah was near.
One Last Thought
Every “fun miracle” had one thing in common—no one asked for Jesus to do it.
These “fun miracles” are all God’s idea. No human would have thought of them. Changing water into wine? Or walking across stormy seas after midnight? Multiplying a little boy’s lunch to feed thousands of followers?
Yes. I believe it’s our Savior having a good time.
Jesus delights to bless us by doing the impossible.
All images are from Pixabay.com.
To learn more about the Sri Lankan tradition of stilt fishing, click here.