May the Lord speak to you….Enjoy, Shell
Matthew 26:33-35, 69-75
Last Sunday night our Pastor did a lesson on the love of God, from the vantage point of Peter, the disciple. He read the passages of Peter telling the Lord, he would never let him down. Jesus, himself informed Peter that before the cock crowed the next morning, Peter would deny him 3 times. Peter tried to argue with Jesus, telling him he would die before he would do such a thing. Scripture tells us in a matter of hours, he did exactly what Jesus said he would do while trying to be inconspicuous in the wrong crowd around a fire, in the cool of the night.
So much happened in those hours, Jesus was betrayed in the garden and taken captive. The disciples scattered and hid. Jesus had been crucified and laid in the tomb. Later, they had discovered the tomb was empty. He was gone. What happens to Peter in the days following? Where was Peter? What do you think was going through his mind? Do you think the last conversation with the Lord consumed his minutes and hours? Do you think his denial of the Lord replayed in his thoughts?
Jump to the scripture where Peter and the other disciples are fishing on a boat, not catching a thing. They are weary, hungry and I bet, frustrated. Then someone speaks to them from the shore “Have you any meat?” Then he told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat, they caught more fish than they knew what to do with. So when John questions if it is the Lord speaking to them from the shore, Peter jumps into the water and heads to the shore as fast as he can go. As our Pastor pointed out, it was ironic, the very next time Peter meets with the Lord, was at a fire. Don’t you know that might have brought back painful, regretful memories for Peter? But did the Lord bring that up? No, in fact he asked Peter a question. It was that question that connected the two events by the fires.
Personally I had not really thought much about the time between the fires. It was at the first fire that he betrayed the Lord. I can only imagine that he was filled with guilt and remorse at the realization of what he had done. And fear. But much later after his Lord died a cruel and unfair death, I am sure, there were feelings of great loss and doubt.
What do we do when we have fallen into sin and then back into “old ways?” Aren’t we frustrated, angry with ourselves, remorseful? Don’t we wish we could make it all right again, take it all back?
Don’t you think Peter, jumped into the water because he could not get to the Lord fast enough? To make it right, to say he was sorry, to ask forgiveness? What is amazing is Jesus is just sitting by the fire, cooking up the fish, inviting them to dine, accepting, no condemnation, no I-told-you-so. He did ask Peter a question. It was a question directed at Peter’s heart. The Lord knew the answer. Why do you think he asked him specifically “Do you love me?” Why do you think the Lord asked him 3 times?
I think He was driving home the fact that He would use Peter to feed His sheep, the message of hope, forgiveness of sins and ultimate love. How could Peter have truly understood what He was to pass on to others unless he himself had not been in a place to experience the hope of cleansing, to receive that forgiveness of his sins and finally to come face to face with love. The guilt, the remorse, the loss and frustration of the past days melted away with the realization that he was staring into the face of the man who had died for the very sins he committed at the first fire. And here, at the second fire, he witnessed what His Lord’s death stood for, the ultimate love of God.
Between The Fires!
It was between the fires, that my heart changed
From sin to forgiveness, I had to learn,
That he loved me no matter what,
Love through grace that I didn’t earn.
I had to feel the regret and loss
the desire to hide, hang my head
Before I understood what His dying
Meant for me, standing in my stead.
It was between the fires, that I came to know
The companion’s guilt, remorse and fear,
He took them all upon himself
Sacrificed through death, my record clear
I had to see for myself, face to face
What would send Him to bear?
Sins of the world, including mine,