Time has character. There are festive times, work times, play times, waiting times, desert-times, times of renewal, times of restoration and many more. Every aspect of our lives is measured in time and could be described according to a manner of time.
Surely the most significant and remarkable time in all history was the time between the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. The women brought the news. The grave was empty – Peter and John ran a fear-filled race to the garden tomb to make sure. Mary’s words were enough to get them out from behind lock and key and fear and send them on a mad rush through the streets of Jerusalem early in the morning after the Sabbath. John himself describes the events – he is the ”other “disciple. He “wins” the race but does not enter the tomb. Our Peter, typically, rushes in and observe the linen cloths as well as the head covering, neatly folded and separate.
Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. (John 20:3-7)
Mary saw Jesus. The news is spread, according to the command to her to tell the disciples and Peter (Mark16:7) with the promise of a meeting in Galilee. The meeting on the beach of the lake – an early morning fish barbeque – is described in John 21.
The day of the Resurrection Jesus walks with the travellers to Emmaus and discusses the “news of the day” – the deep disappointment of the past days – the blood and death that hung like a horrific stench over Jerusalem of the One that they hoped would be the One their hearts longed for. For the time it took to walk the twelve kilometers between Jerusalem and Emmaus – walking time – those two travellers received the most excellent theological instruction of all time. Jesus was explaining himself in terms of Old Testament prophecies. (Luke 24:27)
Remember this of theology and sermons – even with the highest and the best, they did not recognize him. It was only when they invited him into their dwelling to take a place at their table that their eyes were opened. Jesus broke the bread, something they might have seen him doing in the past. Their spiritual insight did not develop because of all the discussion. The knowledge that they had received had to be infused with his presence on their own invitation, before it became revelation-knowledge. Walk-time became learning-time. The ordinary became extraordinary. Travel-time became a memory burnt into their minds forever.
It is true for today also. Jesus reveals himself to us on invitation. It is the moment He enters the ordinary, that He makes the biggest difference to our daily life.
His Presence makes desert-times victory-times. He knocks and when we open He comes in for the meal – the sit-long-talk-much kind of fellowship (Revelation 3:20). The table in the valley of the shadow of death where I am sitting as the guest of honour to be overwhelmed with abundance is revelation-knowledge to know God and his goodness in difficult times. (Psalm 23)
Back to the barbeque on the beach in John 21. The characters of the disciples during their time with Jesus have changed so much that they believed Mary when she said she had seen Jesus. It was a time when a woman could not be a witness in a court of law. The disciples are waiting by the lake. Waiting time became boring. The expectation is too hard to bear, so much so that Peter wants to do what he knows – he goes fishing – without success. The others are with him in the boat when they return early morning to a lone figure on the beach.
The man on the beach asks whether they have anything to eat. They do not recognize him, but when the miracle on his advice to cast the net on the other side yields abundance, their joy knew no bounds.
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.
But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.
Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”
Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. (John 21:7-11)
The words of the verses stir my heart. The disciple whom Jesus loved is of course John who is writing. The Gospel of John was written after the Revelation that John received while a prisoner at Patmos. John “saw” Jesus in glory in the unseen before he wrote the interpretation of the life of Jesus in his Gospel. The Gospel of John is regarded amongst the most-respected literature in all the world.
Jesus did not love John more than the others. John had a very special revelation of the love of God through Jesus for him. One “hears” this in the words of his epistles. John truly experienced the love of Christ that is why he could describe himself as the “favourite”.
Peter, our Peter, threw himself into the moment without a shirt, but when John said it is the Lord, Peter jumped out of the boat and ran through the water to greet Jesus and fall at his feet once again. His previous encounter behind the locked doors of fear and pain granted him forgiveness and restoration. It was transformation-time, the lifting-of-his-head kind of time.
Ever so practical Jesus had a fire going with fish and bread for breakfast. He cares and provides – as always. Daily bread is central to the prayer He taught us to pray. An ordinary breakfast becomes a time of awe in the presence of the Master.
Jesus said: Come and eat!
What are you waiting for? Have future plans and geo-political upheaval robbed you of your time in between? Where are you now while you read these words?
Well of course, in your time between now and later. What is the atmosphere around you this moment – a sigh loaded with worries or a joyful soul overwhelmed with hope and promise?
Jesus can enter your ordinary. Invite him now. Jump out of the boat and run through the water. There is fish on the fire.
Jesus says: Come and eat!