His Shame Had A Smell
The cool breeze of the morning could not blow the cloud of defeat out of his mind. He stood staring across the water turning the events of the last week over and over in his mind. Shaking his head, he sighed. He should be happy, and he was. Jesus is alive! Returned from the dead! Without a doubt, He is the Son of the living God. Messiah! The Anointed One! Crucified, dead, buried but today the tomb is empty, and he had seen him twice over the last few days!
To say that his head was spinning from it all would be a massive understatement! But it wasn’t just his head, his heart hurt. How could things ever be the same after what he had done? His big words had given way to cowardice, no worse – betrayal! He knew he should push it out of his mind. He was forgiven. But things could never really be the same. How could they?But it wasn’t just his head, his heart hurt. How could things ever be the same after what he had done? Click To Tweet
A voice on the shore, cut through his thoughts, “Do you have any food?” “No!” John yelled. The stranger responded, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” They did and boom! The net filled with fish: so many they couldn’t pull the net into the boat. Seeing the miracle, John exclaimed, “It is the Lord!” Peter grabbed his shirt and impulsively plunged into the water to swim to shore.
Coming out of the water, he saw a fire with fish and bread already prepared. He moved to the fire to warm himself, and as he did, the smell of the fire caused his shame to wash over him again! He looked into the flames and remembered the fire from days before, where he denied that he knew Jesus. That early morning the rooster crowed, and Jesus looked at him, knowing his denial but loving him anyway. He had fled the courtyard and wept bitterly.
Now the smell of charcoal affronted him and mocked him; reminding him of his weakness, his lies, his betrayal. His shame smelled like a coal fire! He glanced at Jesus but dropped his eyes and turned back toward the water. The others were just at the shore wrestling with the net. Thankful for the opportunity to break the awkwardness of the moment, Peter strides forward and grabs it, helping to pull it out of the water and onto the beach.
Of course, Peter couldn’t avoid the fire for long. John writes of the encounter in chapter twenty-one of his Gospel. It is John that gives us the insight of the particular kind of fire Jesus chose to build. John uses a descriptive word that lets us know that it was a charcoal fire. In fact, he is the only writer to use this particular word. He uses it twice: John 21:9 to describe the campfire on the beach and John 18:18 to describe the fire Peter warmed himself at the night of the betrayal.Smells are often powerful purveyors of memories: good and bad. Peter’s shame had a distinct odor Click To Tweet
Smells are often powerful purveyors of memories: good and bad. Peter’s shame had a distinct odor. It smelled like a charcoal fire. Why would the Lord purposefully create a scenario that would remind Peter of his greatest shame? To many today this doesn’t seem to be in line with the love of God. After all, wouldn’t a loving God do everything possible to keep any bad feelings away from his children?
The truth is that real freedom doesn’t result from pretending and avoiding. Jesus brings Peter face to face with his shame, not to rub his nose in his failure but to make him free! Jesus serves the disciples and Peter a meal of fish and bread, and as they finish eating, Jesus pulls Peter aside and asks him a pointed question. Not once but three times. Why three times? Because around that first charcoal fire, he had denied he knew the Lord not once but three times.Jesus brings Peter face to face with his shame, not to rub his nose in his failure but to make him free! Click To Tweet
Jesus lovingly confronted Peter’s issue so that it wouldn’t continue to cause him to shy away from intimacy. Three times he asks Peter, “Do you love me?” And when Peter answered He instructed him, “Feed and tend my sheep and feed my lambs.” Peter knew that Jesus loved him, but he needed to know that the Lord hadn’t changed his mind about Peter’s place in His plan. Jesus gave Peter an opportunity to express his love for him and reminded him of the purpose He had for his life.
That campfire meal for Peter was a table of restoration! My prayer for you today is that you will open the door of your heart to the voice of Jesus that knocks. Invite Him in and accept His invitation to eat with Him. As you do, He will free you from the smell of your shame and remind you of His love for you that releases you into the purpose of your living. [See Revelation 3:20]
I encourage you to take the time to listen to this message in its entirety. It will bless you! COME TO THE TABLE OF RESTORATION: