Remember that story in Matthew 17 about the tax collectors who question Peter about whether Jesus and his disciples pay the local taxes? Peter confirms to the collectors that they do pay the tax and then goes to Jesus to see if that’s really true. After dispensing a bit of wisdom about paying taxes, Jesus tells Peter to go to the lake, throw out his line and the first fish he catches will have the four drachma coin they need to pay the tax.
I’ve always found this particular story to be well, fishy. I mean if I had been Peter, would I have believed that I could get some money straight from a fish’s mouth? After all, Peter was a skilled fisherman. He knew about catching fish and I’m guessing to that date, he had never found fish that filled their gills with money. So, what possessed him to just believe that? Of course, we can toss it off to the fact that Peter was a disciple, but you know, you and I are too. I wonder if I was told by an angel to go out to a field, look for a bird in a tree, talk to it and it would give me a hundred dollar bill to pay my taxes, if I would go do it. I’m thinking this took some kind of incredible faith on Peter’s part.
I somehow imagine Peter going to the lake, standing there awhile, trying to convince himself that it was going to be worth it to throw out his line and find one fish full of coins. He might have thought, “What if Jesus is just having fun with me? What if He is just testing me to see if I’ll do this incredible thing?” Well, if he wasn’t thinking those things, he’s really a great man. I’d have been standing there at the lakeside, hoping no one would see me so that I didn’t have to explain that I was expecting to find a fish, the first fish to hit my line, and that he’d have my tax payment in his mouth. I’m sure I’d have been slow to do the deed. I’d have been very curious though and so I probably would have done it, just to check.
Ah, there’s the problem. Can you just check to see if God’s word will be true, or do you have to believe it first? Do you have to throw out the line, expect the fish, see the coins in your mind’s eye and be ready to collect without any hesitation? Is it about the fish having the coins or is it about YOU believing the fish will have the coins?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think my faith is a bit fishy. I think I’m a little slow on the belief side of things. I think it would be a tough call for me to walk to the lake, throw in the line, and BELIEVE the fish would be there. That’s the thing I confess to have to work on because that question comes up all the time. In my case, Jesus may be saying, go to this city and wait for my next assignment, or call this person because they have something for you today.
Believing! It’s not for weak spirits. That’s why we have to help each other. I’m believing with you today.