Suggested Reading: Philippians 4:10-19
However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself—Matthew 17:27
In a normal year this would be known as Tax Day. April 15th was the day to file our taxes if we had not already done so. Filing on time so we would not incur penalties.
The story in Matthew 17 about Jesus providing money so Peter could pay both their taxes is a wonderful reminder of God’s providence and supplying all our needs, even in temporal concerns and matters such as taxes and finances. A reminder that no matter how great or small, common, or uncommon our need is, if we take it to the Lord in prayer he will hear our pray and provide a way for us to have what we need.
The collectors of the two drachma tax (which was a small coin weighing about .4 ounces and amounted to two days of wages for the average working person) had approached Peter, not about his own taxes, but those of Jesus. They wanted to know if Jesus was a tax paying citizen. Which Peter assured them Jesus was. Peter was not a wealthy man and two days of wages would have been a lot for him so when he entered the house Jesus told him where he should go and how he would get the money to pay both of their taxes.
I’ve often wondered if, when hearing how Peter was able to pay his taxes, the other disciples came to Jesus and made that same request. I’m sure he would not have denied them. He may not have told them to go to the water and pull out a fish and the money would be there as he had instructed Peter. He may not have supplied their need the same way he supplied Peter’s need, but he would have supplied it.
Our needs may be similar to the needs of others, but God is a creative genius and provider: Jehovah Jireh, and he does not always answer our prayer or supply our need the same way he does for someone else. That’s why our testimonies and stories can be so different. One person may be diagnosed with cancer and Jesus miraculously removes that tumor; no human involvement necessary, it just disappears. But for another their cancer is addressed and healed through medical science, medical treatments, radiation, surgery, chemo, before they are pronounced healed. Someone needs to pay their mortgage or rent and may not have the money they need for the payment; for one person or family God may send a sum of money through an unexpected source, for another family he helps them see how to rearrange their budget to pay the amount due. One couple may be wanting to add to their family and have a baby; for some God will bring that child through the natural way, but for another God may decide he wants them to open up their heart and home to a child someone else did not want or could not keep. Someone may need to secure reliable transportation or employment, yet the answer God provides and the way he supplies this need may not be the same for each person. On and on we could go, but we know that the answer to our problems, the provision we need come from one source: our great God who has promised to supply all our needs and he brings and sends our answers and supplies our needs the way he wants for us.
Peter had followed Jesus long enough, had witnessed enough of his miracles, had seen his supernatural way of addressing sin, bringing healing, liberating so many in some very creative and unique ways so he did not question what Jesus told him to do, he just obeyed his Lord. He had learned by watching Jesus, that nothing was impossible for God, nothing was too hard.
We can note that Jesus did not tell Peter to put his pole in the water and keep fishing until he finally got the one that had the coin. But he told him the first fish he pulled from the water would have what was needed to pay the tax. Which meant Jesus had already provided and that provision would make its way to Peter. He didn’t make Peter play the fish lottery and hope his fish number fell out.
As uniquely and individually as God has created us in the womb is how he will supply our needs. There is no limit to his grace and no restrictions on the way he provides for us. Once we ask him, pray to him about our need, once we say amen is the moment we should start looking for his answer and provision; staying open to the creative way he may bring and send it. When we need a miracle or provision from God we cannot worry about how he did it for our neighbor, only turn our eyes to him, trust him and believe that he can and will supply whatever our need it. Let’s Pray,
Dear God, keep us humble in our attitude and always remember we are children in your kingdom and you always know best. That includes the best way to provide and care for us. May we learn to bring you all of our concerns and needs and then trust you with our whole heart and not doubt that you will provide for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen