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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

TAKE A LOOK AT THE FISH - september 28, 2008


Matthew 17:24-27

Sermon of the Week #200839 – September 28, 2008

And when they were come to Capernaum: Capernaum was the base of the Lord’s ministry after being rejected at Nazareth, and it appears that He spent much time in the home of Simon Peter when not going through the cities, and villages teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom. So here in Matthew 17:24 Jesus and the apostles have arrived at Capernaum, which would be His last visit before He went to the cross.

What a blessing to a city to be the home of the Son of God during His ministry on earth. The prophecy of Isaiah 9:2-3 quoted by Matthew says the people that sat in darkness have seen a great light. And yet in spite of all the mighty works done there because of their unbelief; Jesus would say in Matthew 11:23, “Thou Capernaum shalt thou be exalted unto heaven? Thou shalt go down unto Hades: for if the mighty works done in thee had been done in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would have remained unto this day.” In modern times has any country been blessed as America for mighty works in the Kingdom of God? Thou Capernaum—thou America.                         

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received the half shekel came to Peter, and said, “Doth not your Master pay the half shekel?” He saith, “Yea.” This was a tax paid by every man into the sanctuary according to Exodus 30:13-26. Actually Peter did not know whether Jesus paid the tax or not, but he was quick to reply yes, to make his master look good. Perhaps he should have said, “Why don’t you ask him yourself? Or I will ask him, and get back with you.”

Peter was out of doors at this time, perhaps on a trip to the market to buy supplies, and when he returned home, before he could say anything, Jesus spoke first. The Lord was aware of the conversation, the same, as he is aware of any conversation we may have with anyone at any time.

Jesus said, “What thinkest thou Simon? The kings of the earth, from whom do they receive toll or tribute, from their sons or from strangers?” And when he said from strangers, Jesus said unto him, “Therefore the sons are free.” So Jesus being the Kings Son was exempt from paying the redemption money. Jesus was also exempt from paying the tax because the tax originally was for the temple. And Jesus informs us that He is the temple.

He said in Matthew 12:6, “Behold one greater than the temple is here,” and in John 2:19-21, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up:” But He spake of the temple of His body. And in Revelation 21:22 John said, “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple thereof.”

So Jesus rather than offend anyone needlessly told Peter He would pay the tax any way. The only thing was the Lord did not have any money. Sometimes people will ask what is this man, or that man worth. Such a question usually indicates the man in question may be worth several million. How much was Jesus worth? Jesus was not worth even twenty-five cents; which would be about the amount of this particular tax.

However the Lord knew where He could get it. He went to the royal treasury, which would be in this case a fish’s mouth. Jesus told Peter: “Go thou to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up, and when thou hast opened his mouth thou shalt find a shekel; that take and give unto them for me and thee.”

Now we Christians can learn much from this transaction. For one thing, if Peter was going to receive a gift from Jesus; it is only right that he should do the work to catch the fish, and if we are going to receive the gift of salvation from the risen Christ it is only right that we should do something for the Lord in return.  And another thing, when we work for the Lord; He will not be beholden to any man, and will see that the laborer is worthy of his hire.  Now let us take another look at the fish.


Look at the fish and see the King is free from the tax. Jesus did not have to pay the tax, but He did it anyway. But then, there are many things that Jesus did, that He did not have to do, that He did anyway.

Philippians 2:6 we learn that Jesus did something for us He did not have to, but did anyway. Paul said; “Jesus existed in the form of God, counted not the being equal with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of man; being found in fashion as a man.”

            We can never understand why Jesus would choose to live on the earth, He Himself created, and become a man like us, that He also created; and not to live as a king on earth, but a servant. In heaven He could command legions of angels, who waited gladly for His command, and yet he chose to come here when men would rebel against anything He said. He did not have to come down here, but He did.

            But not only did He choose to be as a servant, but to be in the likeness of men. He chose to feel the pangs of hunger, and thirst as men; and worst than all that to live in a body that could be tempted in all points as man. He did not have to do it, but He did.

            And even more than that Jesus chose to die as all men must die, and not only die, but to die in the worst possible way, and the worst of circumstances. He did not have to do it, but he did it anyway.

Then at the beginning of his ministry at the age of thirty in Matthew 3:13-17, He came to the Jordan and requested John the Baptist to baptize Him. John said, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” Luke tells us in Luke 3:3 that John came preaching the baptism of repentance, for the remission of sins. Jesus had committed no sins, and yet He said, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus did not have to be baptized for the remission of sins, since He had none, but He did it anyway   Later on after Jesus died, and was raised up, and ascended to heaven; ten days later on the day of Pentecost; those who heard the gospel, and believed it were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Many hear it today and won’t do it. It seems rather strange that Jesus having no sin was baptized, and many today have sinned won’t do it. Now take another look at the fish.   


So Jesus told Peter to go to the sea and cast a hook and take the fish that first cometh up, and thou shalt find a shekel. However we are left hanging there. The scripture does not tell us the rest of the story. Matthew does not tell how it all came out. Did Peter go and catch that fish, or not?

We can be assured that Peter did in fact go, and catch that fish, and he did indeed find the coin, and pay the tax, because when Jesus says something shall be done, it shall be done, and it is just as good as done.

But there are many things that Jesus says shall be done wherein we do not see as yet the final result. Did Jesus not say in John 14:2-3, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again and will receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also?”  He said it, and it has not happened yet, but it will.

Is it not true when the Lord ascended into heaven in the 1st chapter of Acts that two men in white apparel told the apostles, that this same Jesus who is received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye saw Him go into heaven. It has not happened yet, but it will.

As a young man getting ready to go to Bible College, the world situation looked to many as if the time for the return of Jesus was at hand. I asked my preacher how long would it be? He said a man makes a fool of himself trying to set the date when the Lord shall come. But I was not satisfied with that answer, I wanted something more definite, and asked him to make a guess. “Well,” he said, “It looks like from the way things are we may have about fifteen years.” I was glad to hear that I had fifteen years; because that would give me time to get out in the world and do something. Those fifteen years has passed by several times, and I am still trying to do something. The Lord has not come yet, but he will.

Some do not believe that double promise of the destruction of the world by flood, and then by fire as mentioned by Peter in his 2nd epistle 3:3-7.  “For this they willfully forget that the heavens that were of old and the earth compacted out of water and amidst water over flowed with water perished.” Some refuse to believe the flood event ever happened; but it did. And many refuse to believe the heavens that now are by the same word are stored up for fire, being reserved against the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. For the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. That second promise of fire has not happened yet, but it will.

There is a prediction of the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds. That day has not taken place yet; no one knows when it will be. Paul tells us in Acts 17:30-31, “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now He commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.” It appears that God has circled the day on His celestial calendar. He alone knows when the day will come when the Lord Jesus will sit on the Great White throne of judgment. It has not happened yet, but it will. And now take another look at the fish.


Look at that fish again and see the providential work of the Lord with His church. God used a fish to obtain the necessary resources to obtain the money for the tax. Many may scoff at this, but remember Jonah 1:7, “And the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” We know this is a true story because Jesus believed it. He said in Matthew 12:40, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Jesus compared Jonah and His experience with His own resurrection. To deny the story of Jonah is to deny the resurrection of Jesus. And that is one mistake you cannot afford to make. Now if the Lord can use a big fish for Jonah, He can use a trout in the Sea of Galilee for money to pay the tax. And does He not work providentially in our work today for the important work of taking the gospel to a world that is dying and going to hell?

God not only works through us in the conversion of the world, but He gives us an insurance policy with the commission. When He gave the commission the first time to the apostles to go out and preach to the lost sheep of the House of Israel; He sent them without gold, silver, brass, wallet, without an extra coat or pair of shoes, and they went out in faith without any funds. We had to wait for a report on how it came out until Jesus was about to go into the Garden of Gethsemane, and He asked them according to Luke 22:35, “When I sent you out without purse, wallet, or shoes, lacked you anything?” And they answered, “Nothing.” Jesus supplied all their needs. That is a good insurance policy.

But when Jesus gave the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that beleiveth and is baptized shall be saved he that believeth not shall be damned: He gave them and us a policy with double indemnity. When the Lord sent them into all the world they remembered the first commission, and knew they need not ask where the resources were coming from, because He had supplied their needs the first time; and that was a good enough insurance policy as it was, and then came the double indemnity. They knew in addition to the support the first time sent out, they now had the double indemnity by the Lord’s word found in John 10:17, “I lay down my life that I may take it again. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it again.” He said He could do it, and He did it. That was double indemnity because they had the additional insurance. If He could raise the dead, raising the money was a minor problem. And now let us take one more look at the fish.    


Remember Jesus told Peter: “Go thou to the sea and cast a hook and take up the fish that first cometh up, and when thou hast opened his mouth thou shalt find a shekel; that take unto them for Me and thee.” According to Exodus 30:12-16 the giving of the half shekel was a gift into the tabernacle for the ransom of their souls. So Jesus did not say take this, and give unto them for us, but for Me, and thee. Jesus did not need to pay ransom money, but Peter did, and Jesus stood with him in the transaction, even as He stands with the Christian today. Take another look at the fish, and remember Jesus is standing with us today. At His birth announcement in Matthew the prophet said, “His name shall be called Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us.” He stands with us in His birth; He was born just like us, and lived in a body just like us. He stands with us in temptation. Hebrews 4:15, “Having been tempted in all points like as we are yet without sins.” He stands with us in death; He not only died, as we die, but He died in the worst way. Hebrew 2:9 reads, “By the grace of God He tasted of death for every man, and at the same time feeling as though He had committed every sin we have ever committed.”  The most glorious part of that stand with us in death is the knowledge Paul gives us in 2nd Corinthians 5:8, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  

And last of all we notice His stand with us in the proclamation of the word. The last verses of Matthew 28 tell us: “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you.” And then the last statement in that document tells us: “And lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world. Immanuel, God is with us.”