John 18:18, 25 "18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself... 25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.””
A charcoal of fire is usually a place where people gather together to stay warm and fellowship. Much like a camp fire it is where friends and family congregate to talk story, laugh and sing kumbaya. But for Peter it was the place where he followed Jesus at a distance and denied his savior three times. The charcoal fire signifying the warmth of friendship and fellowship instead became a painful reminder of disappointment, cowardice, apostasy and failure. Yet the grace of Jesus confronts disappointment and clothes failure. A couple of chapters later in John 21 the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples and Peter in particular and says this in verse 9, “When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it and bread.” Jesus provides redemption in the place of failure. Jesus initiated the restoration of relationship and freely offered undeserving grace.
A couple of months ago I drove to a preaching engagement in West Covina and drove by my old high school in Baldwin Park, CA. As I drove past my old stomping ground, memories of my foolishness, disobedience and rebellion against God started to flood my conscience. I was about to preach the good news of Jesus to a church yet I began feeling guilty and condemned by my past. It was then that I was convinced that the gospel is exactly that—good news! Jesus in his grace saved me from my old life, bore God’s wrath on the cross in my stead and was resurrected to give me freedom so that I am a new person. When I sin be reminded of the good news of charcoal fire. Jesus provided the fish, bread and fire to restore me.
Thank you for your undeserving grace. Somehow I tend to wander away from the cross and depend on my restitution for righteousness instead of standing firm in the gospel, believing in Christ’ righteousness and repenting. Please forgive me. Would you remind me of the fellowship and grace in the charcoal fir? I love you so much! Maranatha!