Bible Study with Jairus-2 Peter 1-10

Peter Caught a Fish with a Shekel in Its Mouth

Holding on to the Lord’s Promise in the Darkness

In recent studies, we’ve discussed Peter’s reflections on experiencing the Lord Jesus’ Transfiguration on the Mount, how Christians should grow their spiritual life, and the road map for entering the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In his letters to the churches, Peter often reflects on the blessings he received from the Lord. One of these occurred when the Lord Jesus instructed Peter to go fishing. The first fish Peter caught had a coin in its mouth, which he then used to pay the temple tax for both himself and the Lord Jesus. What did Peter learn from this experience?

Peter learned the importance of asking Jesus for help before saying or doing something rash. Fishing is never easy, and it is even more difficult to catch a fish with a coin in its mouth. However, Peter persevered because of the Lord’s promise to provide for the temple tax.

2 Peter 1:19 reads, “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Peter was speaking, not only of how the prophetic writers of the Bible were prompted by God (2 Peter 1:20-21), but also from his own personal experience. I was deeply touched to realize that perhaps, when Peter was fishing, he was able to persevere because he had the words of Jesus Christ as a promise. This teaches us to hold on to the Lord’s promised and prophetic words, walk through dark moments, and welcome the morning star that appears in our hearts. We all make mistakes—speak foolishly or get stuck in dark situations—but we must hold on to God’s promises to help us get through dark and difficult times.

I have gone through some dark trials in my life. My wife and I experienced infertility for 10 years. In 2016, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “You will have a child this year.” I held on to this promise, even when it wasn’t fulfilled right away. Eventually, God gave us the baby of promise. Though we may not all receive such personal promises, the Bible gives many promises to those who are descendants of Abraham’s faith (Romans 4:24). When we experience life’s difficulties, we must trust these promises that are “prophetic word more fully confirmed” and that shine like “a lamp in a dark place. As we do, we will be able to walk through the darkness and “welcome the morning star” (2 Peter 1:19).

Did the Lord Jesus Need to Pay Temple Tax?

When the tax collectors asked Peter, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” But did the Lord Jesus need to pay the temple tax? Perhaps Peter answered as he did because he didn’t want to give the collectors an excuse to accuse his teacher of wrongdoing. Or he may have responded out of fear of the Jews. But here is how the Lord Jesus responded: “And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?’ And when he said, ‘From others,’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then the sons are free’” (Matthew 17:25-26).

Judging from this passage, I personally think that the Lord Jesus meant that as a king and the Son of God, he did not need to pay the temple tax. Jesus goes on to say, “‘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).

The Bible does not record what Peter was thinking as he carried out the Lord Jesus’ instructions, but I imagine Peter had mixed emotions. We don’t know how long it took Peter to catch the fish, but I believe he had some time to reflect while he was fishing. He may have regretted responding to the tax collectors before asking the Lord and thus receiving a rebuke from the Lord. Or maybe Peter was thinking about the Lord’s words, gaining a better understanding of the Lord’s divinity and how he was truly the Son of God. The insights Peter gained while fishing were later written down in his letters to the churches.

There were many dark moments in Peter’s life, including when he denied him three times. The darkest of these was between the Lord’s death and resurrection. At that time, Peter may have remembered the words of the Lord Jesus, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3). These words of promise from the Lord Jesus are the “prophetic word more fully confirmed.” Jesus originally spoke these words right after predicting that Peter would deny him three times.

At the time, the disciples did not understand what the Lord Jesus meant. “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him’” (John 14:5-7). It’s interesting to note the timing of when the Lord Jesus spoke these words. In fact, these words were His response to Peter’s question, “‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you’” (John 13:36-37, emphasis added). The Lord Jesus responded by telling Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed.

After Jesus’ death, when Peter reflected in the darkness, he may have remembered the Lord’s words of promise, “but you will follow afterward.” When the Lord said these words, He was telling his disciples that He was going to the Father. However, sin was still preventing humanity from approaching our Heavenly Father God. The only way to the Father was not opened until after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. That which we are unable to do in our fleshly weakness, we can one day do because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Peter hoped to lay down his life for the Lord, but he couldn’t. However, after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter did sacrifice his life and die as a martyr for the Lord. The Lord Jesus spoke to Peter of this, “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me’” (John 21:18-19).

Paul says the same thing in Romans 7–8. What he cannot do in the flesh, he can do through the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ. Likewise, Peter also grew spiritually and was able to fulfill the prophetic words of Jesus Christ in his life, “But you will follow afterward.” These words may have encouraged Peter in the darkest moments of his life. The resurrected Christ not only appeared to Peter and the other disciples, but also appeared to Him alone. The Bible does not record the details of this incident, but we can imagine that it must have been very intimate.

My Testimony of Holding on to the Lord’s Word of Promise in the Darkness

My wife and I struggled with infertility and prayed to have a child for 10 years. Those years held a lot of pain and trials. We experienced six unsuccessful attempts at IVF, quarreling, sleepless nights, and the oppressive attacks of evil spirits. We both walked “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4a). But I have always believed in God’s promises and in the Scripture: “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 10:11). Even before I received the Lord’s personal promise to me, I believed that the Bible’s promises were true for every descendant of Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would multiply His descendants. God blessed him with descendants and gave back Isaac, as if back from the dead. I prayed, “God, if you could do this for Abraham, I believe that you can do this for me.”

At the time, I worked in Washington DC. Every day during my lunch break, I went to the park and prayed, “God of Abraham, God who raised the dead, God who spoke the world into being from nothing—Where are you? Please appear to me.” I continued praying, repenting of my sins, and recommitting myself to God. I repeated these words of promise in the Bible over and over again.

Many Bible verses speak of God’s promises for children; they were God’s personal promises to me. A pastor was teaching from Scripture, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the childrenof one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5). As he was preaching, the pastor said something very moving and encouraging to me: “Your quiver is full of arrows. God will bless you with children.”

I left the Local Church Movement where I was saved and began attending a small charismatic church to seek healing and the Word of God. My wife and I traveled all over the United States seeking help and prayers, attending many crusades of healing evangelists. Although God did not choose to heal us through them, He used this time to grow me in knowing Him and His promises better.

In January 2016, I was at a conference when I heard God speak, telling me that we would have a child that year. The following month, I returned to China to visit my family and told them about God’s prophecy. But they didn’t believe me. They thought there was something wrong with my brain. After returning to the United States, I experienced a great deal of spiritual warfare. By May, I was exhausted. One day I asked the Holy Spirit, “When is this going to happen?” That night, I had a dream. I saw the Holy Spirit, dressed as a woman, pointing at the back of a man (Jesus Christ’s image). The Holy Spirit said, “Didn’t He tell you that you will have a child next month?” I told my wife and friends about the dream and they found it unbelievable. But by the end of May, my wife was pregnant. It was a miracle. A healthy daughter was born in 2017.

Paul encourages us, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20). God did not heal my wife and me through prayer, but He ultimately healed us through the words of His personal promises. Even before I received God’s clear words and personal promise to me, I believed the promises in the Bible. As I repeated and believed these promises, I came to know God’s character more profoundly. I know, from my own experience, that anyone who trusts God will never be ashamed. When I trusted the confirmed, prophetic words of the Bible, I finally received the Lord’s promise as my own prophetic word. The black and white words of the Bible (Logos) became God’s personal words to me (Rhema)

You Cannot Follow Me Now, But You Will Follow Afterward

The Lord Jesus is the Captain and Pioneer of our salvation. Hebrews 2:10 claims, “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering” (emphasis added). This is why Jesus told his disciples, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward” (John 13:36). Jesus was going to the Father, but Peter and the others couldn’t go yet. After the Lord Jesus accomplished redemption, the road was paved for them to go to the Father. Jesus paved the way for our salvation and for the obedience He learned through suffering.

When the Lord Jesus told Peter, “You cannot follow me now,” and when Peter was waiting to catch the fish: these are like us, waiting, in our current time. We have not yet found the coin; we have not yet joined Jesus in his Father’s house. But as we go through this life (even in times of darkness), we must hold to the word of God’s promises, like a lamp on a dark night. What we cannot do, in the weakness of our flesh, Jesus Christ will empower us to do by his salvation and grace.

When I recognized my inability to overcome my flesh, I prayed and asked God to give me strength. That night, I had a dream that I was flying in the air, an Earth-like ball under my feet, covered with dust. As I stamped my feet to shake off the dust I shouted: “With the strength of the Lord, I will definitely overcome the gravity of the Earth!” This vision of the Holy Spirit, revealed in my dream, told me that God will strengthen me so I can break away from the flesh and soar in the Spirit. God has led me through a series of disciplines, helping me to mature and overcome some weaknesses of the flesh. Sanctified by His life, I have become a vessel, able to be used by God.

Conclusion

Suffering itself does not make a person mature. But praying throughout times of suffering can grow a person’s spiritual life. If we do not hold on to God’s promises during difficult times, there will be no lamp in the darkness nor light that leads others to the morning star. Many people experience darkness in life, but if they do not know the confirmed, prophetic words of God, they are unable to pass through the darkness into the light. We need to help others know the Bible’s words of promise that by knowing them, they can escape the corruption that comes from the lusts of the world and become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Peter experienced this perfection in the Lord and in 2 Peter, he shared his own spiritual experience with us.