When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” Matthew 17:24-27 NKJV
Why did Jesus tell Peter to use a hook and not a net? Peter was a commercial fisherman when he met Jesus. He was used to fishing with a net which indiscriminately catches a large of number of fish of different types as well as other animals or objects. When a net is drawn in, the fisherman has to choose what he wants to keep and discard the rest. Again, why use a hook and not a net?
To pay the tax, Jesus didn’t need fish, He needed money. So He supernaturally directed one fish to retrieve the money then directed it to the place where Peter could catch it with a hook. Simply put, Jesus needed a specific fish, with a specific coin in a specific place at a specific time to meet a specific need. That explains why Jesus told Peter to use a hook. This might seem like a trivial detail but it’s not. This story might be about money but it can also provide great insight into how God sees people. Let me explain.
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Matthew 4:18-22 NKJV
When Jesus called fishermen Peter and John into the ministry He used the illustration of fishing to help them understand what they were getting themselves into. They would continue fishing but instead of catching fish, they would catch people. Same principles, same objectives, different targets… From this scripture we get foundational principles which will enhance our understanding of evangelism. We also see by The Law of First Mention that Jesus wanted Peter to think of reaching people the same way he thought of catching fish.
Like the fish with the coin in its mouth, God directs specific people to attain specific tools, skills or resources to complement specific gifts He’s already placed inside of them. He then guides each of them to specific places at appointed times to meet specific needs in His Kingdom. Attracting those types of people to a local church takes a different approach from the one used to draw the masses. People like these are caught with a hook approach while the masses are caught with a net approach.
A fisherman uses a certain style of rod and hook with the right type of bait to catch the exact type of fish desired. He also has to drop the hook in the water in the right place at the right time. That’s how crucial the process is to catch certain fish. On the other hand, the fisherman with the net understands the value of quantity over quality. He lowers his net where the fish are expected to be and pulls it along until enough fish are caught to make it worth his while. Each method is effective for a different reason while both have their advantages and disadvantages.
In the same way, some people are drawn to God’s Kingdom with a crowd while others need to be sought after on an individual basis. Jesus walked up to Peter and called him into the ministry along with his friends. In contrast, Peter preached a message to a big crowd after Pentecost and three thousand people were saved at the same time. When God needs particular people, He knows how to get them and that’s what he wants us to learn.
The fish with the coin in its mouth represents people with crucial resources that The Kingdom needs at any given time. God wants to teach us how to recognize who they are and catch them. Furthermore, for many of us God wants to teach us how to become one of them. In other words, don’t just learn how to catch the fish with the coin in its mouth that meets a vital need in God’s Kingdom. Be the fish.To be continued...
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