Jesus is Waiting for You

A sermon by Teddie McConnell for May 1, 2022
 Jesus is waiting for you.
Peter and his friends knew that Jesus was resurrected, because they’d seen him. They didn’t know when or if Jesus would appear again. They worried about the danger of being arrested if they stayed in Jerusalem. They were stressed out, exhausted and needed a break in the comfort of a familiar place. Because they had no idea what to do next, they did something they knew well and wouldn’t take much thought. They went home and went fishing. They didn’t realize that Jesus was what they really needed, and that he’d be waiting for them.
Jesus is waiting for you, too.
They worked hard, stayed up all night, and didn’t catch anything. Their muscles ached, no longer used to the strain of physical labor.
In the first light of day, Jesus, the light of the world, appeared on the beach. As the psalmist wrote, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” He called to them with affection, “Children!” He told them he knew they hadn’t caught anything, then gave them instructions. “Try something new. Try the other side of the boat. It’s worth a shot.”
They didn’t recognize him. They looked at each other and shrugged. They had nothing to lose, so they tried it. They caught 153 fish, so many that they felt doubly blessed when their net didn’t break. It was a miracle of sudden abundance, like the wine at the wedding in Cana, like the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus created more than enough each time for the people who were there, plenty and to spare. Suddenly, one of the disciples recognized Jesus in the miracle, and yelled, “It is the Lord!”
At this revelation, our friend Peter felt suddenly self-conscious and vulnerable. He was either naked or just in a loin cloth. Like Adam and Eve, he was aware of his sin and embarrassed enough to want to hide from the Lord. He yanked on his clothes, even though they must have felt like sackcloth and ashes. He still felt ashamed of denying Jesus to protect himself, unworthy of love, afraid that Jesus would judge him, would reject him. Shame traps us in the past. It shuts us down so we can’t think straight, can’t grow, can’t recover ourselves enough to see Jesus, let alone serve him.
Then Peter looked up and was so excited to be close to Jesus again that he forgot his shame and jumped into the water. They were so near to the shore that he could have stayed in the boat and kept dry until he reached the beach, but he couldn’t wait. He waded in and stood there, his wet clothes dripping on the sand, and grinned. He probably gave Jesus a big hug and got him all wet as well. Jesus would have smiled and hugged him back.
Jesus is waiting for you, too, ready to welcome you.
He gave them the food he’d cooked, like another communion meal. After the disciples ate and rested, Jesus talked to Peter, calling him by his name like the cherished sheep he was. “Simon, son of John, here you are, hanging out with your friends. Do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus heard his answer, and asked him two more times anyway. Peter was hurt that Jesus kept asking him, but he also needed it. The three questions corresponded with Peter’s three denials, his betrayals of the man in front of him. The questions gave him a chance to look Jesus in the eyes and see the love there, the grace and forgiveness Jesus wanted to give him. He turned Peter’s mourning into dancing, took off his sackcloth and clothed him with joy, so his soul might praise Jesus and not be silent.
Jesus is waiting for you, too.
Can you see him, lit by the pink glow of the first light of the day? He’s there on the beach, or next to you in the pew. Wherever you are, He’s there. He knows your situation. He knows your fatigue. He knows you need a miracle before you can recognize him.
He also knows when you’ve been going through trying times and you’re exhausted. He knows you need to let go of the past and try something new. He’ll give you the inspiration to try that new thing and get a huge catch, a miracle, while you’re still in the boat, while you still don’t even know that it’s Jesus who’s giving it to you. And he’s already made breakfast for you. He supplies your immediate need to finish what you’re doing so you can stop and refocus, then he supplies the need you weren’t even aware you had, so you can really listen to him. Jesus knows it’s hard to pay attention when your stomach is growling. That’s why he fed the five thousand before he was finished talking to the crowd.
Jesus is waiting for you.
Are you wasting the present moment caught up in regret, ruing some bad decisions? Are you wishing you had a time machine so you could go back and change the past? Jesus is the king of new beginnings, of redemption. He’s waiting for you to decide to stop hiding in your shame and come to him so he can forgive you. He wants you to remember that he’s not asking for perfection, only obedience. He’s not mad at you. He’s not asking you to grovel, just repent of whatever sin still haunts you. He’s asking you to talk to him. He’s asking you to say aloud that you love him, so you can hear the commitment in your own voice.
He wants to heal you. He wants to love you into wholeness. But he has to wait for you to decide you’re ready, pray, and tell him you love him and want what he wants for you. Only when you’re healed and ready to focus on the future can you feed his sheep.
Do you love him enough to come out of the boat of your past and your shame and onto the shore where forgiveness awaits you? Do you love him enough to believe that he’s ready to take your sin away and give you newness of life? Do you love him enough to let go of the past and face the future ready to take care of his sheep? He’s here, waiting for you. Time to throw off your shame, dive in and head for shore.
And all God’s people said, Amen.

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