Third time’s charm, or God is always on time

Just in the nick of time. At the right moment. God acts exactly when he should, when things ought to be done, no sooner, no later. In our limited vision, God is often late. Or we think that he jumps the gun. But God is always on time.

This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
John 21.14 NET

What is this fact important? Because of what will soon happen: the restoration of Peter. From the Lord, three questions about love. From Peter, three affirmations in increasing frustration.

And why does Jesus wait until his third visit to his disciples before speaking to Peter and indicating his restoration?

We can only guess the reason, since John’s text does not explain.

  • Maybe because Jesus is letting Peter feel the tension of his unresolved act between the two.
  • Maybe because Peter still needs time to affirm his love for the Lord.
  • Maybe to give time to think for the one who speaks before putting his mind in gear.

We don’t know the exact reason. But one thing we do know: Jesus waited until the best moment, the right timing, for Peter.

Four, yea, five, applications appear here from this fact for our benefit.

  1. Wisdom has a sense of timing. “For everything there is an appointed time,
    and an appropriate time for every activity on earth” Ecc 3.1. We will be more effective when we develop this sense of timing. See also Pro 25.11 and Mt 24.45.
  2. We are limited in our knowledge; therefore, our sense of the moment will rarely be perfect. Patience! God still uses us, as vessels of honor. “So if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart, useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” 2Tm 2.21.
  3. God answers prayer and makes things happen in our lives “at the proper time” Psa 104.27 NIV. God doesn’t make us wait without cause. He gets no pleasure in holding back from us his goodness. He will give us justice “speedily” Lk 18.6-8.
  4. There is no such timing for the gospel. We must speak all the time. “Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction” 2Tm 4.2. To borrow a word of Jesus to his brothers, we can say that, for us, our “time is always here” Jn 7.6 NRSV.
  5. Just as in the first sending of Jesus, “when the appropriate time had come” Gl 4.4 (see also Rm 5.6), the Lord still awaits the right moment for his second coming, “at the right time” 1Tm 6.14-15. Of this hour no one knows, but it will happen at the right hour.

Perhaps for us, as for Peter, the third visit will be the right moment. But whatever be the hour of God’s action for us, most certainly he will act with perfect timing.

Translated from our Portuguese-language devotional site, “Deus Conosco.”

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

1 thought on “Third time’s charm, or God is always on time

  1. I’ve found that to be true many times in my life. It seems God always knows just who/what to send when I have a need in my life that I can’t handle alone.

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