3rd Sunday of Easter, Year C
Wasting Away in the Luxury of Time
Say you were at the beach, out in the water. You look up, and on the shore is someone you love dearly. Someone who’s gone. You squint to be sure your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. But when the person beckon to you, what do you do? What would you do if you had one more opportunity to say something to a lost loved one?
If you’re Peter, you jump off the boat fully clothed and swim the 100 feet to shore. He always has been an all-or-nothing kind of guy. The other disciples manage, without getting wet, to bring the boat and the fish in. There are always details to be taken care of too.
Scripture doesn’t record what Peter said to Jesus on the shore while they waited for the boat. But, like a movie scene, I see water spraying as Peter storms to shore. Jesus tries to hide a smile while He continues to call to the others. I know He appreciates Peter’s enthusiasm, but He also understands there’s a boat and fish that can’t be abandoned. Then I imagine Peter was tongue-tied. What could he possibly say now?
Jesus fills in the silence. “Do you love me?…Feed my sheep…Do you love me?…Tend my sheep…Do you love me?…Feed my sheep” (vs. 15-18). And with that, Peter knows that he is forgiven for abandoning his Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane and has also been charged with his life’s mission. Peter also knows it’s not going to end well because Jesus hints at Peter’s death. But, Peter, the original all-or-nothing guy, is all in now. He’s been given that elusive last chance, the one human beings generally don’t get, and Peter’s not about to let it slip through his fingers. He knows how it feels to royally screw up and think it can’t be fixed. This time, he’s doing what he needs to, no matter the cost.
What do you do when Jesus beckons to you, when He gives you that elusive last chance, the one He gives to each of us time and time again? Are you all in, like Peter, cost be damned? Having denied Him before, you’re not about to make that mistake again? Usually, I think we 21st centurians have the advantage of hindsight over the original disciples, but in this case, we don’t. We know Jesus isn’t really gone, so we can keep putting off His invitation, knowing it will be issued again and again. But Peter and the others had felt Jesus’s loss as permanent, and because of that, they knew His charge to be a real gift, a demand to happen in the now. We don’t feel that same immediacy. We waste away in the luxury of time.
But think about the person you’d most like to see again beckoning to you from the shore. You’d do whatever they asked, and it would happen now. There wouldn’t be time to waste. I’d slurp a bowl of soup with my grandmother and ply her with questions. I’d want to learn everything about her, inside and out, beginning to end. There’d be no time to spend on anything but those precious moments on the beach. At some point today, give Jesus your now, your precious moments on the beach. Don’t delay. Jesus has forever, but we do not.