Isaiah 55:6-13, Psalm 63:1-8, John 21:1-17
When I was a kid, one of the most coveted and exciting items you could have in your possession was a Hall Pass. In my school it was a little pink square. And if your pink square had a teacher’s signature on it, it meant that you could travel freely about the hallways…during class…without getting in trouble. That was a huge freedom!
- walk by other classrooms to make sure your peers saw you
- conceal your pass until you were ‘caught’ only to reveal it (Nice try Principal Rooney, but I have a hall pass!)
I can still remember the feeling of floating through the hallways with a Hall Pass in my pocket.
The Gospel we heard today finds the disciples floating in a boat again. This time, though, they are missing Jesus. Jesus has been crucified, buried, and resurrected.
The disciples are out of sorts and can’t even do what for many of them was the one thing they knew how to do before meeting Jesus: catch fish. They are so out of sorts that they don’t recognize the risen Jesus when he stands on the beach and calls to them, telling them to cast the net to the other side of the boat. When they do what Jesus says, they are suddenly overwhelmed with abundant fish. Almost more fish than they can handle. Certainly more fish than they had earned. And that’s how they recognized it was Jesus.
When Jesus shows up they have enough, more than enough. They are given an abundance that is miraculous. That doesn’t make sense. They will be well-fed. But the story doesn’t end there.
While the disciples are feasting with Jesus, he asks Peter some questions. “Peter, do you love me?” … “Yes.” … “Feed my lambs.” Again, Jesus asks, “Peter, do you love me?” … “Yes, you already know I do.” … “Tend my sheep.” And again: “Peter, do you love me?” … Peter’s hurt. “Jesus, yes, yes, you already know I do.”
“Feed my sheep.”
It’s no coincidence that in the story, Jesus moves from feeding the disciples to sending the disciples to feed others.
We are fed to feed.
We are filled with good things unconditionally so that we can share with others unconditionally.
One of the greatest gifts, one of the most radically abundant treasures that God has granted us is forgiveness. It’s freedom:
- Freedom to forgive ourselves (try it; ‘that was an oops’)
- Freedom to forgive others
We also have freedom to choose between two obvious responses to Grace:
- saved by Grace, so why bother?
- saved by Grace, so why not?
You can live as a fully alive, passionate sharer of God’s amazing grace, with boldness to reach out to others sharing your particular gifts and unique contributions with others. Why bother, or why not?
I neglected to mention an important part of the Hall Pass. The destination line. See, our teachers knew that a pink pass of permission would lead to no good if there wasn’t some kind of accountability. Before signing the pass, each teacher will fill out the destination. The purpose of the pass.
Grace is a Hall Pass with a purpose. Grace is forgiveness with a destination.
If you look at the destination on your Hall Pass from God it will say, “to your neighbors.” “For the sake of the world.” “Feed my sheep.”
Jesus fills us up with abundant love, abundant forgiveness, abundant freedom so that nothing can stop us from loving our neighbors. Not fear, not failure.
Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Peter, who had abandoned and denied Jesus before the crucifixion. Peter, who had a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and getting so excited that he jumped out of boats. That Peter was found by God, fed with abundant fish, forgiven with abundant love and told, “Feed my sheep.”
Peter had never been more free than he was in that moment, and at the same time, had never been more committed to serving others.
Think about what you could do as an individual if you lived in the freedom to boldly forgive and love others. The freedom to make mistakes (to make an oops) and to be forgiven.
Think about what we could do together as a congregation… to work towards our shared mission in a state of grace where we focused more on forgiveness than failure? Where we had everything we needed to reach our destination?
Think about how you would move through your daily life if you knew that you had a Hall Pass in your pocket that was signed by Grace and marked for your neighbor.
Series recap: God creates, God helps, God loves, God calms…God is present in amazing ways. Maybe the most amazing way, is thru us! God sends us to share amazing grace with the world around us. God sends us to be the presence of Jesus to our neighbor.
It’s almost impossible to believe that God would actually be present in and through our lives. It’s almost scary to think of the freedom and responsibility that come with sharing the presence of the living God with others…
But then again, we are saved by Grace, so why not?