We had some friends over two nights ago – and had a nice fire. And smoke. You know how that goes – everything you wear ends up smelling like smoke. But I don’t mind. I love the memories the smell of smoke brings. Smells can evoke powerful memories. In fact, Psychologists tell us that of our senses, smell is the most significant trigger of memory.
Where am I going with this?
I think it is significant that Peter denied Jesus by a smoky fire (John 18), and then Jesus restored Peter by a smoky fire (John 21). Coincidence? I doubt it.
The denial takes place at a smoky fire (John 18:18).
John 18:18 "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…."
Peter actually denied that he even knew, was associated with, or hung out with Jesus - and then Jesus was killed. How do you get over that? How do you cope with the guilt and shame? How can you possibly be accepted by the other disciples?
Here’s how: Jesus reinstates Peter. Jesus publicly pulls Peter back into the inner circle. But watch where Jesus does this. Jesus restored Peter by a smoky fire by asking him three times (one for each of his denials), if he loves Jesus. Peter affirms his love, and is charged to minister to others.
John 21:9-10 (After fishing)… When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”
By publicly re-affirming Peter in front of the other disciples. Jesus saves Peter from a lifetime of shame, and he publicly restored him among the disciples.
For the rest of his life, every time Peter sits by a fire, instead of being reminded of the shame of his denials, he is now reminded of the grace of Jesus who restored him by asking three times (one for each denial).
Think about that the next time you are sitting by a fire!
Enjoy walking with the Savior today, Pastor John