The night was dark, the breeze crisp and the air carried a sense of uneasiness.
there were rumblings throughout the city. Something big was happening.
A close group of friends have seen their leader taken captive and he faces execution,
and a man edges closer to a fire that was burning in the courtyard to warm in this night of misery.
“You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?”
“I am not.” Comes the response
“You also are not one of his disciples, are you?”
And again “I am not.”
“Did I not see you in the garden with him?”
"NO. I DO NOT KNOW HIM."
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter, the first disciple to declare that Jesus was indeed the Christ, that he was the son of God.
But who do you say that I am, “you are the Christ” says Peter.
and on the night Jesus informed Peter of his coming denials he even said
“Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
“Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow till you have denied me three times.”
Peter, ever the faithful, bold disciple, he says “you will never wash my feet" and within an instant desires to be completely washed.
"Then wash all of me”
Peter the one to whom Jesus said “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
You can almost hear him protesting indignantly that he would never ever reject Jesus.
And yet even the mightiest fall.
We can see even from Psalm 51, that God’s anointed king fell into sin, But much like with David, Peter is restored.
We see this ever so clearly in this passage dont we?
Peter had fallen with a bang.
But that is not the end, you see his rejections were redeemed.
Peter was restored.
We must feel the weight of this, we need to get into this story. Can you imagine the grimace on Peter’s face?
Crushing, what a disastrous noise for Peter to hear.
This was the realization of his sin.
Then the morning after the night before, or rather a few mornings after the night before and the scene changes from the cold darkness of night, where there was a fire for warmth that Peter stood around rejecting his Lord, to...
... the warm brightness of morning. The fire of friendship, of fellowship, the fire that cooks breakfast.
Oh, how the perspective changes!
It is the Lord on the shore.
and in typical Peter fashion, he cant wait, he is in the water swimming to embrace his Lord.
Jesus' response to Peter’s sin is to make him breakfast.
and so begins the real work of restoration.
Peter, dripping wet around the fire, dining with Christ.
I wonder if there was much conversation around that fire, or was the tension building until finally breakfast was done and the heart penetrating questions began.
Simon, Son of John “Do you love me more than these?”
do you love me more than the rest of the disciples? do you?
"Yes, Lord; you know that I love you."
The fact this question had to be asked would have cut Peter to the core.
"you know that I do."
and we should note here That he is addressed as Simon, not Peter.
Simon the man who had not known Christ. As opposed to Peter, the Rock on which the church would be built. Simon the fisherman, who after his sin had returned to his old ways (verse 3). "I am going fishing"
a writer puts it like this
“Peter, do you remember your human weakness? remember what you were like before I met you? This question (Simon, do you love me?), though motivated by love, was calculated to hurt, and it did.”
Peter had said “even if all fall away on account of you, I never will”
These questions would have hurt. How could he ask this, he knows I love him... doesn’t .... doesn't he?
Questions that hurt yet they needed to be asked.
Jesus second question removes comparisons with the other disciples... the point has been made. He was not superior to them
Just Peter and Jesus this time... do you love me?
The bottom line. The crux. do you love me?
"yes Lord you know that I do."
The superiority of Peter’s love was challenged in the first question
The second asks if he even loved Jesus at all!
The third question, repeating the second, asks do you really love me?
Peter is hurting, three times, how could he. Three times. Oh the irony.
so he responds more boldly, you know all things, you know that I love you!
and so the beautiful symmetry of his denials and his declaration of love is complete.
Jesus takes him at his word. Jesus does know all things. He knew the affection Peter had, but Peter needed to see that he was not superior, he needed to see that he truly did Love Jesus despite his sin.
and so with three rejections, comes three redemptions. Peter is restored completely. 3 failures, 3 times he declares his Love.
If we had Peter’s Restoration
his love for the Lord,
and his rejections redeemed.
then we should also see
His task now is to feed, tend and feed Jesus’ sheep.
the pattern of three continues with three commissions. feed, tend and feed.
and as we think about God's great grace toward Peter, is this not a great encouragement to us?
Yes Peter sinned, he failed significantly. Peter is still going to be at the centre of Jesus building his church. That is marvellous.
We know that our own rejections of Jesus are common. We know our sins are common. So with Peter, though he was restored. Jesus searched his heart and found it to be loving toward him. And so from there, from a heart in love with Jesus, Peter was to serve him. To tend the sheep. To build the church.
and have we experienced a restoration like this?
have we felt that heart wrenching realisation of sin, only to feel the heart warming redemption of our saviour?
and so we turn to serve him, to labour for him in the church!
there is restoration and because of this there is response. There is tending to do.
but dont we have a saviour that cares for this too?
The same saviour said
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail (or fail completely). And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
And we see some of the fruits of Peter’s response in 1 Peter 5 where in guiding leaders in leading he returns to the metaphor of his restoration, urging them to Shepherd the flock...
Peter displays humility in this reference. Having in focus his own failing, whilst urging those who were leaders to tend the sheep, to "Shepherd the flock"! Peter had evidently responded to his restoration.
Isn’t this a great spur for serving and tending? and to pray for serving and tending? Jesus cared to build his church so that the gates of hell would not prevail against it... and Peter was the living embodiment of it.
He was restored. He loved the lord and from here he was to get to work with the sheep.
Imagine standing on the shore with Christ, just you and him, only with the sea of eternity as the backdrop, Christ looks at you with knowing eyes.
Do you love me? Without comparing yourself to others, do YOU really love me? Do you have an affection for me?
We must love him first and foremost, more than anything or one. And our failings, as we see with Peter are no excuse. If we can answer this yes, then we have the privilege of getting to work in the church.
Remember these two things.
Let us Love our Lord, really love him.
And then in so doing let us secondly respond to his restoration of us by serving the church, the sheep.
so lets pray that we would ever increasingly be loving our Lord as we seek to minister his glorious gospel.
Two fires with two very different perspectives.