A Fishy Tale – Part 2 – Jesus is No Magician, 23FEBthru02MAR
One very important lesson that we can get out from the Bible is actually seeing ourselves in the Bible! That’s NOT by chance…
I have been focusing on learning Jesus’s lessons from Matthew 17, and have swirled the scripture of the fish and the coin thru my thoughts over the last few days. I couldn’t wait to find peace to write it out until now, my opportunity to put out a sign that says: “Gone Fishing”. Scripture is portable and carried easily thru our day… I had never heard this particular one and now I think one could teach and learn from it – forever… I can see us (me and you) in this scripture – that is NOT by chance. Scripture is the book you should read in-between the lines!
Here’s that interesting scripture: Matthew 17
24 When they arrived at Capernaum, the tax men came to Peter and asked, “Does your teacher pay taxes?”
25 Peter said, “Of course.”
But as soon as they were in the house, Jesus confronted him. “Simon, what do you think? When a king levies taxes, who pays—his children or his subjects?”
26-27 He answered, “His subjects.”
Jesus said, “Then the children get off free, right? But so we don’t upset them needlessly, go down to the lake, cast a hook, and pull in the first fish that bites. Open its mouth and you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to the tax men. It will be enough for both of us.”
I thought of where I see myself in this story – EVERYWHERE… How about you?
Just now I see myself having had to wait a week simply to finish this writing, then a month to finish editing it and posting. One day I woke up on a Saturday, refreshed to write, but the cat wanted to play – I had to play for a bit then get on with my mission to write – this is what Jesus was experiencing too – not the cat but the tax collector moment as an interruption of His mission to move towards Jerusalem, His fixed destination… Jesus was not going to let a bump in the road stop Him from His job. My first take home message: we also encounter bumps in the road, we too have to deal and keep moving… sometimes bumps in the road can remind us that there is a road to keep moving on… (and it is good to play with the cute cat!)
Lesson 2) Perhaps Peter made an oops… the first account that I read in Michael Card’s book conjectured that the teachers were exempt from this tax – Peter maybe made an oops of judgement – and Jesus helped him out… (Jesus never minded offending people, but apparently made an exception here). Jesus preserved the peace since they were on a time schedule so close to crucifixion day… Jesus decided not to offend the tax collectors and make it easier on Peter and also continue on their journey… Do we see ourselves in Peter’s position? Oh Yeah…
Take home message: Jesus figures out how to get us out of a jam, to re-find our peace, to either correct our actions or give us enough mercy to keep moving…
Jesus will tweak the system for us, even asking the Father to forgive the worst offenders. Peter messed up plenty after this too – so will we – we are HUMAN – “to err is human, to forgive is divine”… we are watching Jesus lead by example… we are to forgive as well…
Lesson 3) The fish was stealthier a hidden spot than other places – wait – let’s take that magic concept out and exclude falsehoods and change it into a truth moment – let’s remove from our thinking that Jesus had magically placed this coin into the fish mouth rather than think in the truth. JESUS IS NOT MAGIC…
JESUS IS NOT MAGIC…
The fish had a reasonable chance to pick up a coin whereas another miracle might have looked sketchy – WHOA – I have to correct my words here – Jesus didn’t cause the fish to get the coin – just like Jesus didn’t snap His fingers behind Peter’s ear to make a coin appear or make this situation into a side-show attraction. Jesus didn’t decide to HIDE the miracle lest people start a gold-rush for wealth, no…. Jesus was really acting on knowledgeable TRUTH. And yes, logistically, it’s probable that a fish would pick up a shiny object, a coin, it’s probable that the coin would get stuck, it’s probable that people in the area of the sea would have lost coins in normal life moments. It’s the truth that Jesus at that moment had inside knowledge of where to get a coin. It’s the truth that Jesus knows EVERYTHING (except the exact day and moment God will send Him back to earth, but that’s not His job to know, nor ours, just His job to prepare us for that day).
Take home message: JESUS IS NO MAGICIAN – doesn’t do magic in your life or mine – Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life… He’s a heaven-human woven as the Word into our lives before we are born. Jesus verbally reminds healed folk and us ALL THE TIME that it’s our faith that heals us, not His magic trick. When we accept Jesus as the Word, then the Spirit can pull on our woven heartstrings and move us into the truth of healing…. we can be healed by active prayer by others too… Jesus is not an unavailable resource, He is ever present.
Lesson 4) The fish walk gave time for Peter to think. Peter believed Jesus. Peter still had to act on that belief and cast the line. Got to still put in the work, we do too. Peter got to fish for his peace, do we?
Maybe to “go fish” was a good “downtime” activity for a possibly distraught Peter – or maybe Peter was in such excited relief for the save by Jesus’s quick thinking of go get the coin in the secret spot – or maybe Peter was grateful for a moment to getting out of town, away from tax collectors and interrogators – or maybe Peter thought and reflected that this might be the last time to see his hometown, one last look at the water before leaving with Jesus to Jerusalem… Did Peter run to the water or slip sheepishly there? How long did he stay? Would he think that he was lucky to have a moment to fish or burdened by quite a time crunch? Did Peter reflect that even though he left fishing to fish for people instead that Jesus allowed him one more time to be at the water?
Maybe Peter wasn’t thinking and maybe Peter was just doing!!!
Later, I wonder if Peter reflected on that walk as an opportunity, a pleasant and grateful moment knowing that Jesus had taken care of everything. Jesus took the worry out of it.
Take home messages: Do we worry? Do we give up worry and know God has it under control? Should we be overthinking or just doing our best?
Do we take the worry out of our lives knowing that Jesus took care of everything?
Do we run in delight to the first fish of our eyes and know, just know that Jesus clued us in to victory in a clueless world? Do we feel like we won the jackpot even if it’s the smallest of saves by God, one coin for one tax, one rescue for one bump in the road of life?
Do we pre-worry about the next bump in the road? Or appreciate LIFE IN THE MOMENT… do we take time to sit and fish for our peace?
And do we start checking all the fish mouths (like I used to check the whole line of vending machines as a kid for forgotten coins)? Or do we get just the one coin and only one we need (perfect provisions) and be satisfied that this is enough?
When do we simply realize that JESUS IS ENOUGH. The whole of GOD, JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT is enough for our holy wholeness? When will we “be still”?
Can we – and will we – take life one fish at a time? Just follow the light – not overthink complex maps of predicting the future – just step one step at a time – and can we actively participate in this process? Participate NOT anticipate! Jesus will lead one step, one casting, one fish, one coin, one soul at a time. We need to be caught by Jesus and be ok with that and be real in our faith to reel in our future.
Lesson 5) Peter and Jesus had become unrecognizable as local folk… this was Peter’s home and where Jesus lived for quite a while, they should have been recognized as hometown folk, not strangers, from whom tax collectors took tax… (the translation of this passage sometimes says strangers instead of subjects, in both versions Jesus says children are not taxed)…
Mathew alone recorded this (not the other gospels). Matthew was writing to new Christians leaving the security of the Jewish community as they began to become the earliest Christian communities… they needed to see an examples of others like them, on the outside of the norm… we don’t know if Peter in this real story was NOT recognized as a local or only Jesus as an outsider was asked to pay a tax, but either way Jesus asked Peter to pay for both of them. Jesus kept Peter with Him. First Christians (and we) needed to know Jesus had them covered.
Peter AND Jesus were unbelievably changed in the opinion of their hometowns and the wisdom of Jesus teaching caught his hometown off guard. A prophet is not without honor EXCEPT in his hometown…
Take home messages:
- Jesus has us covered. Jesus is with the outsiders and unrecognizable. Jesus understands rejection and stumbling blocks. If you ever felt lost or alone, know that Jesus is with you. Know that this human earthly world is temporary and not our home, know that Jesus asks for protection and mercy for all of us because we are not OF this earth, just travellers. We can be ostracized for our faith. Also, we can be ostracized by the world “just because”. Jesus stands with us. Jesus pays the price for us on the small scale and the ultimate scale… we are children of God with no tax on our entry into His kingdom. Jesus was our ransom.
- Peter and we are completely changed by the HOLY SPIRIT – a new creation – look at this new thing God is doing THRU us. It’s not unusual that the world won’t understand, be bold for God anyway…
- Peter, a fisher for men, like Jesus, like us, so we need to cast nets for people – IMPORTANTLY WE NEED TO NOT THROW BACK ANY FISH WE DON’T LIKE… no favoritism…
Lesson 6) It’s a fish story – isn’t that memorable? Aren’t Jesus’s stories always memorable? Jesus spoke in ways that made people think. This was not a parable but a private conversation story that Matthew (and Peter) could recount in a memorable way… the fish too was better off without that coin stuck and was freed from the burden. Are we freed from our burdens by letting Jesus?
Another take home message: What are our memorable moments of when Jesus interceded and that caught us – hook, line and sinker? How were our burdens negated?… how blessed are we? BLESSED.
Lesson 7) Jesus reminds us ALL THE TIME that glory is for God, it is not glory earned for man’s achievement. That doesn’t mean we can’t aspire to doing great things, we can and are supposed to be the hands and feet of the Lord… But we just need to give credit where credit is due… But paying taxes? yup, there’s hoops in life for us to jump thru – along the way – Ceasar needs to build some roads and schools and, oh yeah, pick up the trash. Common tax for common good. Give Ceasar what is Ceaser’s – and to God give all that is God’s…
There are more lessons….
The end real take home lesson is the beginning lesson – that the Lord’s children get off free – (I give thanks to Michael Card for re-pointing that one out).
Jesus said, “Then the children get off free, right?… “
Take home message – people don’t know that they get off free – we are already God’s children – we already have our way to eternal peace – paid by Jesus’s death – we enter into our journeys EVERYDAY – pick up our cross EVERYDAY. These are our days to walk with our fellow children who are at various stages of understanding and purposefully help to get each other home – the price we pay is our obedience – the payoff is well worth it… HOME
Take home message is to take the MESSAGE home.
Keep paying taxes.
Keep forgiving flubs.
Keep focusing on forever things…
Keep fishing for the truth.
Keep the message real.
Keep the faith.
Jesus is the Word.
The Word is in you.
The act of imagining and knowing yourself thru the scriptures is the Word fleshed out…
Fish your hearts…
Fill and spill your soul…
Feel the Spirit flowing…