I love the Colorado River. Many vacations and school breaks were spent on the River. I first learned to water ski on the River. I took my first canoe trip on the River. I spent many a day fishing with my dad on the River. I taught my daughters to fish at the River. So every time I return to the river I only recall pleasant family memories and times gone by and wonder what new memories will be made. Perhaps this is the same idea that was going through Peter’s mind when he and six other disciples went fishing after the resurrection of Jesus.
Much of the time of Christ’s ministry had been near the Sea of Galilee. It was on this sea, when their hearts were filled with terror that Jesus walked upon the water to their rescue. Here the raging storm had been silenced by His word. Within sight was the hillside where thousands of people had been fed from a few small loaves and fishes. Here is where Peter and several disciples have gone.
Perhaps they retreated to this area because of the memories and images of the miracles and ministry of Jesus. All of the sights, the landscapes, reminded them of Him. Perhaps they were in search of peace and contemplation from the events of the past days and weeks. So returning to a fishing boat where they were first called to be followers of Him provided peace and meditation. Perhaps just returning to normalcy, what they knew best, fishing, is why they find themselves at the Sea of Galilee.
It is here where Jesus again appears to these disciples. In this story I find it strange that Jesus has started a fire and is cooking breakfast. No where else in scripture is Jesus cooking food. No where else is there record of Jesus starting a fire. Is there more to this event than Jesus preparing food for the hungry disciples? I believe so.
Just a few weeks ago Peter was standing beside another fire. He had followed Jesus after His arrest and was standing by a fire warming himself from the chill of the night. He was not alone. There were others that night who were also cold and were standing around the warm flames. Soon one of them recognizes him as a follower of Jesus and asks if he is a disciple. It is here that Peter denies Jesus not once, not twice but three times.
By standing by a fire, Jesus is setting the stage for Peter so he will have no doubt that he is forgiven. The care. The concern. The love of the Savior. He wanted Peter to experience the sights, the sounds, and the smells of that dreadful night when Peter denied Jesus. However, the only difference now is that Peter is standing with Jesus. He is not standing by the fire alone. He is standing in the very presence of his Master and Savior, Jesus. What depth of love Jesus shows Peter that He would do all He can to assure Peter that he is forgiven.
This same Jesus longs to be our friend too and will do whatever it takes even if it is simply starting a fire.
By Stephen Zurek