A miracle is a phenomenal or supernatural event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers, and more often than not cannot be explained by the laws of nature. God never operates contrary to His Word or to the laws of nature which He has established, but He has the prerogative to supersede them.
Matthew 17:24-27 records a unique miracle in Jesus’ ministry.
“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.’”
Exodus 30:13 tells the amount of the temple tax. “This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary. The half-shekel shall be an offering to the Lord.” When Peter opened the mouth of the fish, he found a coin worth the equivalent of a shekel, the exact amount needed to pay the temple tax for two.
Peter was a fisherman. There is no indication in Scripture that Peter questioned Jesus, or thought the instructions given to him by the Lord were at all strange. Peter would have known about the tilapia, indigenous to the Sea of Galilee. It is also called a musht and is now known as St. Peter’s fish. The male tilapia was known to carry its small young in its mouth until they were large enough to leave. This fish purportedly picked up small pebbles in its mouth, and, like many fish, was attracted to shiny objects. Both Jesus and Peter, having lived around the Sea of Galilee all of their lives, likely knew about the male tilapia.
Jesus knew by revelation from the Father that there would be this particular fish at Peter’s favorite fishing place that day, and that fish would find Peter’s hook, with just the right amount of money in its mouth to satisfy the temple tax. Jesus also knew that He didn’t have to pay the temple tax. He was the Son of the Father, the One who the temple was for. However, Jesus didn’t have time to waste causing a scene unnecessarily, and wasn’t interested in deliberately offending, even if He was right. And He always was. What was needed would be provided supernaturally, and although there are no verses to indicate that Peter went out and caught this specific fish, it is likely that Peter gladly obeyed the Lord, went down to the water, and pulled in the fish with the coin in its mouth.