I’ve been thinking about the two times in the Gospel of John where charcoal fires are mentioned, and trying to peace them together….The first being when Peter was in the courtyard, and Jesus was being questioned(John 18:15-18); the second when the apostles went fishing in the Sea of Galilee, caught nothing, and Jesus called to them “Children, have you caught any fish???” (John 21:1-19) The first is when Peter denied knowing Jesus, and the cock crowed; the other when Jesus gave Peter the three-fold commission “Feed my sheep, tend my lambs, feed my sheep”.
The image of the charcoal fire is the image of divine mercy. Three times, Peter denied Christ, three times he affirms his love for him. As the first charcoal fire burns, the powers of death and fear seem to hold sway, and Peter succumbs to fear during his test. As the second charcoal fire
burns, the Lord himself, almighty victor over death, has in his infinite mercy prepared the fire for Peter.From that point, Peter himself burns like the charcoal, full of authority, boldness, and zeal. And he would later be put to the test again, and this time, he would heed the words of the Lord, “Follow me.”
The Lord stands always waiting for us on the shore when we venture out into the waters of sin and death. He stands there waiting, having prepared a fire for us, though we have denied him again and again. Will you have the courage to approach and not only confess your love for him, but continue through trials that carry you “where you do not wish to go”? This happens indeed to this very day. So let us take solace by the fire on the shore with the Lord and remember his words, “follow me.”