Repeated Lessons By A Charcoal Fire
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. — John 21:9-14
This part of the story is interesting for a couple of reasons.
First, "anthrakian," the Greek word for "charcoal fire," only appears in two places in the entire New Testament. So you wonder where, right? Well, the second occurrence is right here. The first is in John 18:18, when Peter stands around a "charcoal fire," warming himself at the three-fold denial. Now, compare the two moments in your mind. The first is an interaction of non-invitation, in the darkness of night, cold, and hostile. The second is an interaction of invitation, in the dawn of the morning, warm, and welcoming. Yet both include some probing questions for Peter.
Second, you'll notice Jesus already prepared breakfast. "They saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread." The fish and bread are warming and ready for them. Jesus has prepared a meal for the present moment. But then, he tells Peter to bring "some" of the fish he caught, and as we see, Peter "hauls" them all ashore — again, the same old Peter.
So here is what strikes me about this moment. This is precisely how God works in my life. He often uses the same situations — the difficulties and hurdles we face — as teaching moments. He's teaching me similar lessons over and over, but each time, there's an additional layer, a new aspect of His care and support that I hadn't seen before. It's a mix of feelings: it can be pretty frustrating, yet it's also incredibly eye-opening. And I've noticed something: when these familiar situations arise, if we approach them with an open and different attitude, we grasp the lessons more quickly, and we're also able to see a new side of Jesus's incredible provision in our lives.
So do that today. When the same old problem or sin arises in your life today. Stop being so irritated and look for the lesson and the provision. I bet you'll even thank God for teaching you the same lesson again!
Reflect on a time when you, like Peter, faced a repeated challenge or situation. How did your approach to it shape your understanding of God’s provision, and what new aspect of His character did you discover through this experience?
Consider the two different fires Peter encountered – one at his denial and one at breakfast with Jesus. How do these contrasting moments speak to how Jesus invites us to move from our past mistakes towards a future of fellowship and mission with Him? How can this perspective change the way you face habitual struggles or sins?
DO THIS: Look for the lesson and provision.
PRAY THIS: Father, teach me to see Your hand in the repetitive patterns of my life, and grant me the wisdom to discern Your lessons and provision in every challenge. Help me embrace each day with a heart ready to receive Your grace and to grow closer to You through Jesus Christ. Amen.
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