Summary: The account of Peter’s betrayal of Jesus and restoration by Him provide guidance and hope that the "fire" of betrayal and sin in our lives can give way to the "fire" of restoration and renewal!
"FACING THE CHARCOAL FIRE"
John 18:15-18,25-27; 21:1-19
Every day we face situations that put our faith and commitment to Christ to the test. Many of those situations are like facing fires, dangerous and destructive, that would derail and devastate God’s plan in our lives.
John had worked for years at the paper factory. He had long ago made a commitment to Jesus but was constantly goaded by friends and co-workers to drink and gamble with them. He resisted for 7 years, but then on a Friday night after work he was feeling really discouraged about work and finances and he went with his friends to a bar. That night, he got drunk and did things he could not believe when he awoke sick and hungover the next morning. When John realized what he had done, waves of guilt swept over him and he felt as though his life was over --- FACING THE FIRE
Susan had been raised in a Christian home. She had made a commitment to Jesus at age 11. Now, at the age of 17, she was a beautiful young woman looking forward to college. She had made a commitment to wait until marriage for a sexual relationship, and had been faithful to that promise. But one night in May, the night of her junior prom, Susan broke that commitment after going with a new boyfriend. He promptly moved on to someone else soon afterward leaving Susan to feel used and consumed with guilt. She felt as though she could never be useful to God after having broken such a commitment --- FACING THE FIRE
God’s people have always had to face the fires of temptation and persecution. What are we to do after having failed? Peter was an average man who had been blessed to live and walk with Jesus for three years. But Peter, too, knew what it was to face the fire. Let us learn from him regarding:
I. THE FIRE OF FEAR AND BETRAYAL (John 18:15-18, 25-27)
A. Jesus had been arrested and taken to appear before the High Priest.
B. Peter had only a few hours earlier been willing to fight for Jesus (18:10-11).
C. Peter and John had followed Jesus. John had gone on inside with Jesus while peter waited outside.
D. When Peter was recognized by a servant girl as a follower of Jesus, he was filled with fear and did the unthinkable -- he denied even knowing Jesus (18:17).
E. Scripture says that Peter stood around a "fire of coals" or "charcoal fire" and warmed himself with others while Jesus suffered alone.
F. Around the fire, Peter denied Jesus twice more. Jesus had predicted this in John 13:38.
G. What charcoal fires have you stood around where you acted or talked as if you did not even know Jesus? Are there places or people that fill you with fear and lead you to the act of betrayal?
H. Betrayal has devastating effects in our lives.
II. THE FIRE OF DISILLUSIONMENT AND DESPAIR (21:1-14)
A. After the resurrection in which Jesus had appeared to his disciples, we find Peter and others fishing. We are told the caught nothing all night. What was Peter doing fishing having already seen the risen Lord? Fishing for Peter represented a return to his past life.
B. Peter must have felt that even though Jesus had risen, nothing had changed for him because he felt his betrayal of Jesus had removed any hope of him being useful to the Lord again. So Peter had retreated into disillusionment and despair of ever being able to really walk with Jesus again.
C. Have you ever felt like Peter? Does betrayal and sin in your life lead you to think you are too far gone to be used or loved by God again?
D. At morning, Jesus was on shore and they did not recognize Him. He provided an incredible catch of fish for them (21:4-8).
E. Jesus prepared breakfast for them on what the Scripture interestingly calls "a fire of coals" or "charcoal fire." What must Peter have remembered when he recognized Jesus cooking over a "fire of coals." Perhaps he remembered with despair another "fire of coals" where he had betrayed Jesus.
III. THE FIRE OF RESTORATION (21:15-19).
A. After breakfast the scene shifts to Jesus and Peter. Around the fire, Jesus questions Peter much as Peter had been questioned days earlier by a servant girl.
B. "More than these" -- This may refer to fishing, boats, nets or other disciples.
C. Two words used for love - phileo and agapao. They are used synonymously in John. This is not the emphasis here.
D. Each time that Peter reaffirmed his love, Jesus commanded him to "tend" or "feed" the flock of God. Peter’s love was to be expressed in actions of faithfulness.