Finding grace by a charcoal fire

It’s interesting that a barbecue features in the New Testament telling of the post-Easter events: in fact, charcoal fires are specifically mentioned twice in the New Testament.

The Greek word is anthrakia (recognise anthracite?) and its two mentions are in the fourth gospel.

The first is in John 18:18 and it’s a charcoal fire that provides the setting for Peter’s three-part denial of the Lord Jesus. Having told the woman at the gate that he was not one of Jesus’ disciples, he joined the guards and household servants who were warming themselves at the fire. As he warmed himself there he twice added to his denial: just as Jesus had said he would.

The second is in John 21:9. This time it’s a barbecue on the beach. The risen Jesus is there. And so is Peter.

Grilled fish and bread must have made for a wonderful breakfast on the beach by the water. Served by Jesus. But think for a moment about what happened after breakfast. Beside the smouldering embers of a charcoal fire, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Three times. Just as Peter had denied three times that he even knew him.

Peter had never expected to let Jesus down in the way that he did. In fact, just prior to his denials he had been ready to fight to protect Jesus: Malchus had felt the full weight of his passion to protect his Lord. But deny him he did. His weakness exposed beside a charcoal fire.

And then the risen Lord Jesus, at another charcoal fire not only fed him breakfast, but restored him and commissioned him to feed his sheep. Peter found grace beside a charcoal fire.

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