Recently I had an inquiry for recipes for Tilapia, there is an interesting and exciting lesson one can learn from this fish, so for the recipes I invite you to visit my cooking blog at: www.chefk.blogspot.com here we’ll look at what I consider the most interesting fact of this fish. Tilapia is considered St. Peters fish (either it or John Dory) Let’s look at some lessons we can learn from this simple fish:
Matthew 17:24-27,”And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? 25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? 26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. 27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” King James Version (KJV)
From such a short passage we glean so much in living a long and exciting life, walking in success and victory, perhaps why “going fishing” is such a drive in so many people. We see an issue as to whether or taxes should be paid and how often we worry as to where the funds may come from, Jesus says here a simple truth, “trust me, look to me, I am going to look after you.” It really isn’t an issue of taxes but more of trust. Jesus was going to pay his taxes, but not only his, but Peters as well, never concerned with self, He is always concerned with the well being of others. From the smallest issue to the greatest, Christ shows compassion, remember that compassion is defined as: to experience what another undergoes, and possessing the power to change it. Compassion without power to change is nothing more than pity. Anyone can have a feeling of sorrow for another’s circumstances, but if they possess the power to change that circumstance, yet doing nothing they just pity the other. Jesus lived His life walking in compassion. When he saw a need, it was compassion that caused Him to act and always answer the circumstance with the power of God. Mark 1:41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. King James Version (KJV) Whatever your need, circumstance or situation look to Jesus, He has experienced it and He has the power to resolve it for you.
This event only appears in Matthews Gospel, again we see a simple truth. The Lord is concerned with what is important to you. The story is true (not a parable as some call it) but appears here because Matthew was a tax collector before giving up his life and the benefits of it to follow Christ, which had greater benefits by far. However, what is important you is important to the Lord, no matter how great or small if it is of concern to you, look to Christ for it of concern to Him as well. The tax in question wasn’t a governmental tax imposed on the people, which causes hardship, but rather, it was a religious tax in support of temple works, either way Jesus would pay it and do it without placing any financial burden on himself of his followers, therefore doing what was right and doing it without being a burden. Did he agree with the tax, it’s not known, what is known is that paying it was okay with Him and He would do it without stressing any other person. He didn’t receive a special offering, send out a collection letter, seek out a rich donor or any other means to manipulate the situation to meet the need. Matthew saw simply tell Peter “ go fishing, take the first fish, pay the tax for both of us”. This was important to Matthews observations and therefore it was important to the Lord.
Often we wonder “when”, when will the Lord hear us? When will He answer us? When will we receive what we so desperately need? The tax needed to be paid, no negotiation occurred as to how they could pay it in installments, perhaps with interest, no, docking of wages would occur, no late paying the bill would happen here. No, Jesus said “the first fish” that little Tilapia was swimming around the lake with a coin in it’s mouth that was sufficient enough to pay the tax bill. It would be the first fish Peter would catch. If it was the first first there would be a second, a third and so on, not all with money in their mouths, but Peter was a commercial fisherman and he would know how to capitalize on the other fish that he would catch. The first fish was the supply, all that followed was the “more than enough.” Again, it is compassion that gives the abundance, your need is met, then “the more than enough” helps to meet the needs of many others as well. Jesus says we would do the greater works, these are those that help as many as possible while we are receiving the answer to our request as well.
Think about how important your problem is to the Lord, although the tax need paying, Jesus knew exactly how it gets it done without worry and fretting. He knew where the fish was, so He sends Peter fishing. He knew that within the mouth of the first fish lay a coin in a sufficient amount to pay the tax. He knew that the need was not as great as His power to supply is. Yet He also answers the question that so many use to justify their lack of faith, “if it be God’s will” by making the payment it shows it is always God’s will to be in the midst of meeting your need, great or small, in Christ there should never be any lack. Had He not paid the tax, then the opposite would prove true, He stands for lack, need, hardship, and doubt, He destroyed all those theories by sending Peter fishing.
He proves Himself not only as the Lord of Supply (Jehovah Jireh) but as the omniscient, all knowing Lord, your need was met in His creation. by His Word the fish was brought forth, by His Word your answers have been created, for He is the Word. John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 The same was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. King James Version (KJV) All things were made, the answer to your circumstance already has been made, it is in the first things He says to you regarding it, so we must listen intently to what He speaks, then act on it no matter how strange it may seem to our limited logic. Colossians 1:16 “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” King James Version (KJV) Not only is He omniscient He is omnipotent , there is no power in heaven or earth that stop Him from delivering the very answer to the need you seek resloved by Him.
Before you were even a seed in your mothers womb, He knew you, do you seriourly think that He wouldn’t know how to care for you. The first represents the fact that you will receive the answer for He already has seen the need and sent the answer. Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” King James Version (KJV) Just as God ordained Jeremiah He has ordained you, the word simply means: to decree, enact, or to invest in. God has done all that and more in you. He has the greatest of all investments in you, that being His Son, then He sealed by gifting you with His Holy Spirit, so there is your answer to your need, finished before you even were.
Your first fish answer has been ordained by Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who fulfills your need. When it seems the darkest, The Lord who provides always comes through for you. Remember before He revealed His name He was known as the “I Am”, I am what? Everything you will require to live in faith. It should not surprising to anyone that the fish had the coin in its mouth, they are attracted to shiny things, ever seen a fishing lure? The miracle is that Jesus knew that the fish had the money and that it was exactly enough to pay his and Peter’s tax. He knew where the fish was, and that it would be the first fish Peter caught. The miracle was that He could meet the need, He proved Himself as the Lord who provides.
Remember, too, He was on His way to the cross, just a short time after this event He would freely give His life for us. Why would paying a small temple tax matter, because for Him nothing should be left undone, this was an issue as to who were free and who were under strict law, the free paid the tax as a witness to the power of God to meet the need. Those under the law paid to for a show, leaving out God, and being a center of attraction. The lesson was that soon Jesus would be the temple, free of tax, free to any who will believe. He said tear down the temple and He would build it again in three days, referring of course to His death and resurrection, he instructed that the tax be paid so that after He was risen, there would be no stumbling for some to come to Him.
The first fish means we need to seek no further, our answer is done, we may walk away right then knowing the burden has been lifted, but did you notice that Jesus wanted to pay the tax, or tribute, as an effort to witness to those who are of little or no faith, the religious ones of society. He wanted that tax paid so there could be no offense to any, so none could find a fault and says “see, I told you so” He knows that being an offense is the destruction of what ministry is all about. How many people have left following Christ over even a small offense, it is a tool of Satan and he uses it well to stop what God has for anyone who will not pick it up. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” King James Version (KJV)