153 – the number of scaly silverbacks those bone-wet, exhausted nighttime disciple-anglers hauled in when the resurrected Jesus told them to cast on the right side of the boat, following a deplorable night of getting skunked. They’d caught nothing until this point.
Sometimes I’ll hear people say ill-informed, un-biblical, theologically juvenile (you see where I stand on this) things like, “God and money don’t mix,” or, “God doesn’t care about money.” I’ve now edited my response down to one number, and then I walk away: 153.
153 – someone took the time to count this massive haul of fish. Perhaps the accountant-type among the disciples watched as each fish was transferred from the net into another pile. This makes you wonder whether they really discerned the true astonishment in their midst: the risen Son of God stood overlooking this arithmetic. Who counts fish when your recently-crucified Lord comes around? Or, as Duncan so aptly points out in The River Why, perhaps the all-curious Jesus counted them himself as they gathered around him in adoration; the number mattered to Jesus because it mattered to his disciples.
We don’t know who counted what, but we know for sure that there were 153 fish, that the net did not break (Made in Jerusalem), and that they were sure happy that Jesus had a few fish already on the grill when they rowed their way to shore to do the counting of the miraculous catch.
So, when you wonder whether God and money mix, or whether God cares about money, remember 153, realizing that the simple numbers of life such as money matters matter to God because they matter to us. And, if what you’re doing now with your finances isn’t working, perhaps try the other side of the boat, or put clearer, seek direction from the words of Jesus.