Have you ever stopped to think about the encounters of Jesus that you have had over the years? Even the time when you first meet Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. What a time it must have been, the profound impact that took place at that time and space of our lives.
As we look at a particular passage took place in a courtyard – this exciting piece of passage that unleashed a sequence of events that would change this particular person’s life forever.
Reading from John 18:15-26 NLT. This story of Peter’s denial of Jesus is quite profound as we see Peter in the courtyard. Along with one of the officials warming himself by a fire denying he knew Jesus - in fear of what might happen to him if he admitted to being with or even knowing Jesus. Remember only a chapter or so earlier he had just struck a servant of the high priest. Peter stands around warming himself by a charcoal fire (A fire prepared by Jesus’ enemies). What’s interesting in this passage is that a particular Greek word is used here is “anthrakia
”. The Greek word used for ‘Charcoal Fire’; is only ever used twice in the entire New Testament. The first is here and second in John 21:9. It was around this charcoal fire (The Fire of failure) that a frightened, fearful Peter as he denied he knew Jesus! Not once! Not Twice! But three times!
As the Roster crowed, the thoughts of disappointment must have flooded Peter as this failure that was so great it left Peter in tears of anguish filled with shame, guilt, embarrassment and no doubt wondering that the bible says he went out wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61-62) Even before all this happened, Jesus had prayed for Peter. Note the key point in this passage: Is that Jesus prays that Peter’s faith will not fail not that he will not fail!
Listen to what Jesus says to Peter, Luke 22:31 - ‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed that your faith may not fail and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ But he replied, Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and death. Jesus answered, I tell you Peter before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times!
Peter’s failure took place around a ‘Charcoal Fire’ in the Courtyard.
In times of Failure: it is easy to stay there around the fire – can be a place of comfort, safe, The Devil will use it ‘separate’ us from our calling in Jesus!
In times of Failure: We may think we will never recover from it.
The important thing that Jesus demonstrates in the Gospel of John, is that we are not destined to sit around the fire of failure!
There is another place in the Gospel of John where this word for charcoal fire is used. This is found in: John 21:7-17
’ Jesus around a ‘Charcoal Fire’ on the sandy shore by the Sea of Galilee.
No doubt when Peter saw the charcoal fire that his mind would have been taken back to the last time he stood around the same type of fire – where he denied Jesus.
Why did Jesus do this? Remind him of his failure? Put him down? Make him feel bad?
No not to condemn Peter or to bring up his faults, but to enable him to move past his failure by taking him back to a place where Peter can identify with his failure in order to move him into the calling Jesus has for him.
This moment in Peter’s life around this charcoal fire prepared by Jesus was where a life changing, encounter of forgiveness and restoration takes place! The fire of failure required a fire of restoration. Jesus takes Peter back to the point where he can remember and identify with his failure in order to demonstrate his incredible grace and restorative power.
What Jesus was demonstrating to Peter was that he can not only provide what Peter needs physically - represented in fish and bread but also there is an aspect here that Jesus provides for what they needed to move forward – from his failure we experience. Peter did not need his own fish; Jesus was also showing Peter that there was no need to rely on ourselves – but to a need to rely on Jesus. The conversation that takes place between Peter and Jesus where Jesus asks Peter whether he loves him, too which Peter responds somewhat painfully and sheepishly YES three times! Was not just about his forgiveness but about him expresses his reliance on Jesus for what Jesus was calling him to do for the future and restoring that call on his life. On each occasion Jesus Restores and Reinstates Peter to his original calling to follow him and be one of Disciples and Apostles!
Jesus wants to do that with us – As Jesus gave Peter and now gives us the opportunity to declare his love for Jesus! Not Once, Not twice but Three times! Restoration from failure begins with us acknowledging our reliance on Jesus rather than us being able to do it all ourselves.Discussion Questions
1. What are your thoughts around this statement: “Failure is an event. Not a destination”
2. Discuss some areas in your life that have stopped you from moving forward from the fire of failure?
3. What are the things stopping you from moving to the camp of restoration?
4. Spend some time in prayer - praying for each other and encouraging each other. Asking for God’s help to move from the failures in our lives to that place of restoration moving to a place of breakthrough and peace.
Just as Jesus saw the heart of Peter – God see our heart and helps us through the most difficult situations in our lives.