“The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards[a] from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread” (John 21:8-9, New Living Translation).
I learned something very interesting today in church. Yes, I do pay attention and take it all in (when my ADD isn’t kicking in).
Apparently, there are only two times in the entire Bible when the word translated as charcoal fire is used– this passage and the one where Peter betrays Jesus three times with his Lord within hearing distance. In fact, after the last one, Jesus looks at Peter.
I love how special pains are taken to parallel the two scenes. In one, Peter is at his weakest. You’d think that denying his Lord would be unforgivable. Maybe you’d think that Peter should just go back to fishing– the regular kind that involves fish and not people. He should give up on being a disciple.
But Jesus went out of His way to include Peter in His post-resurrection appearances. He said to get all the disciples — and Peter– together.
Peter thought he’d blown it. He was sure Jesus could never speak to him again, much less forgive him. Peter had gone back to what he knows best, fishing.
In this same chapter, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me, Peter?”
I like to think that’s one for every time Peter pretended not to know Him.
It’s not so much that Jesus needed to hear that Peter loved Him but that Peter needed to know. Peter needed to know that the forgiveness offered through the cross was for him as well as everyone else.
Peter spent the rest of his life living out his gratitude for what Jesus did for him in front of that charcoal fire. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.