When you are expected at a meeting or an appointment do you normally arrive early, on time, or late? How does that make you feel? Your perception of the importance of the event and who you are meeting with probably changes your answer. Most people nowadays know that if you show up late for a job interview you won’t get the job.
When you are the person who is leading a meeting or gathering do you normally arrive early, on time, or late? How does that make you feel? How does it make the other participants feel? I would guess that if you are perpetually late the people who are waiting for you are not happy when you do arrive. In fact, they probably feel insulted; that you have concluded your time or your schedule is more important than their own. And yet, if you are a boss or superior the participants won’t complain to your face.
In a recent study on the subject of perceptions of time it was “discovered” that people with status and power have a different perception of time. (WSJ 7.22.14 Robert Lee Hotz) It seems that “the boss” might be late, not because she wants to appear more important, but because she actually thinks she had more time to get to the meeting than in fact she did. That may be what the study says, but I still think there is an element of rude behavior in the practice of “running late.” Let me make a big confession here: I am pointing my finger directly at me as I write this. I am an “offender”! I cannot tell you how many times a week I need to phone and say “I am running late” or I need to apologize for being late on arrival. I am always trying to do one last email or phone call before leaving for a meeting, so I am late.
After I read about this study I asked myself, “I wonder if Jesus was ever late?” My first conclusion was that since there were no watches 2000 years ago, no one worried about 10 minutes either way. They had some system of knowing “the hours”, but I am guessing no one stressed about showing up late because how would you know if you were 5 minutes early or 15 minutes late? But that isn’t the real point. The real point is that Jesus, the most authoritative, powerful human to ever live, viewed himself not as the “boss” but as the “Servant.” Every meeting he attended was one in which he viewed himself as the Servant of everyone else, serving food, washing feet. So, no, Jesus, the author of time itself, was never late. So, the next time we’re supposed to meet, I am going to try to show up on time because, friends, you are more important than me.