Summary: There is a bit of Peter in all of us. We are weak in the face of temptation. We feel like failures. Some people even keep a spiritual scorecard reminding them that they struck out. Jesus is willing to forgive our failures and call us into His service. A
Opening illustration: It’s my duty to grill the chicken, fish, beef, potatoes, or whatever else my wife has on the menu. And while I’m not the greatest chef when it comes to outdoor cooking, I love the unforgettable aroma of grilling over a charcoal fire. So the mention of a “fire of coals” in John 21: 9 catches my attention. And I find myself wondering why John would include this detail in the story about Jesus calling a failing Peter back to serve and follow Him.
In verses 1-3, it’s apparent that Peter had reopened his fishing business. Just a few days before, Peter was warming his hands over a charcoal fire when he denied Jesus to save his own skin (John 18: 17-18). So why not go back to fishing?
While Peter and his cohorts were casting nets, Jesus built a fire on the beach. Coincidence? I doubt it! And as Peter approached Jesus, I wonder if the pungent aroma of the burning charcoal brought back memories of that other fire where he had failed Christ. Yet Jesus in His mercy took the initiative to call Peter back into His service.
This morning we will be looking into God’s Word and checking out the life of Peter which is a positive model for helping us to understand how we can redeem our denials.
Introduction: Peter’s abandonment and three denials of being associated with Jesus could have marked the end of his ministry. But the power of Christ’s forgiveness led to three great victories.
The Easter story is full of gloom. Agonizing prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hostile mobs demanding execution. Betrayal and beatings. A crown of thorns and a bloody cross.
But one of the saddest parts of the story, to me, is what happened to Peter the night Jesus was arrested. Peter was tired, stressed to the breaking point and fearful of the crowd. When the high priest’s servant girl accused him of being a disciple of Jesus, he denied it. When she repeated her accusation to some bystanders, he denied it again. When others questioned him, the Bible says Peter “began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about!’” (Mark 14: 71)
Then the rooster crowed, and Peter remembered Jesus’ words: “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times” (v. 72).
This could have been the end for Peter. He wept bitterly and disappeared. He never says anything else in Matthew and Mark’s gospels. Luke records the fact that Peter went to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty. John’s is the only gospel that explains how Peter found full restoration for his failure.
Sulking, lonely and dejected, Peter went back to what he knew—his fishing job. He had fished all night and caught nothing. But then Jesus appeared on the shore and invited His friends to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. They hauled in a full net of fish! This was a divine sign that their Master still had plans to use them.
Peter must have been curious when He saw the full breakfast Jesus had prepared for the disciples on the beach. How could this be? Jesus wasn’t frowning or scowling. Nor was he waiting to deliver a stern lecture. He didn’t scold Peter or even remind him of his sin. This amazing Savior simply invited Peter to sit with him and eat.