First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Lottery ticket Jesus, dashed hopes....

March 29, 2016

    I wish I had a nickel for every spent lottery ticket I have seen lying around the streets of our town. I would never have to buy a lottery ticket in hopes of getting rich. I'd already be rich!!  It is understandable why lottery tickets are bought. The hope of striking it rich and never having to work another day in one's life is sufficient motivation. What is represented in this photo looks like broken expectations and dashed hopes. I can imagine the person buying the ticket with growing excitement and then realizing the great letdown. Another dead ticket that produced no joy... The ripped ticket demonstrates a greater level of frustration than one lying on the ground fully intact.

    The post-resurrection silence carried the same dashed hopes.  It's been a few days since Jesus had appeared to his disciples and to Thomas. The lull in the narrative caused unrest in the disciples, especially Peter. When things don't go as planned, it's time to go fishing (shopping, eating, lottery ticket buying, driving, etc)!

        Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two

        other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go

        with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.                     

        (John 21:2-3, NIV)

The disciples, much like lottery ticket buyers, had hoped Jesus was the big strike they had been waiting for. Now their expectations are scattered along the landscape. Peter's decision to go fishing might have been his attempt to get back into some sort of living that made sense. The "Jesus" experiment hadn't worked the way he thought it would, so it was better to go back to what he knew. He was a veteran fisherman!

    This narrative will play itself out, when Jesus calls from the shore. "Have you caught any fish?"  My thoughts here may not be biblically kosher, but I can almost hear the challenge in Jesus' question.  In other words, Jesus was asking the disciples, "What's going on with you....why are you here fishing....how come you professional fishermen have struck out?"  In current day, the questions would be directed at folks who place all their hopes in a lottery ticket. 

    Could it be that Jesus needed these followers to feel the emptiness of earthly hopes so he could show them meaningful eternal treasures?  Jesus will instruct these fishers of fish to consider becoming fishers of people. This moment when the disciples see the living Christ yet one more time does much to galvanize their allegiance to him. Are we ready to fish for the souls of lost folks or would we rather go fishing? (Hopefully the former and not the latter.) Invest your entire life into loving and serving Jesus and you'll never work a day in your life.

 

PS: Jesus is the 'winning' lottery ticket, but we receive winnings according to his terms and conditions. 

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