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.

PLAY THIS: Do It Again.

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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.

5 thoughts on “Repeated Lessons By A Charcoal Fire

  1. Chris says:

    I coach my daughters soccer team and we’ve had several return over the years. It’s been a blessing by coaching them and watching them grow.
    But… we have lost to the same team in the playoffs the last 4 seasons. They beat us last Saturday yet again. We scored first and then one of our new inexperienced girls scored on our own goal. Heartbreaking. We went to overtime but lost in in penalty kicks. I remember shedding tears for a girl that missed her penalty kick and was crying. I felt absolute joy for my team as I consoled her but at the same time utter disappointment for losing again???

  2. Tom Waller says:

    Very eye opening moments in the details. Always look a little deeper into the teachings of the bible.

  3. Trent says:

    I am afraid this may be too close to home for me to positively comment today. I may be learning , or being taught rather, a lesson that I just can’t get because I have been fighting the same fight for years. Pray that I might figure it out and move on to the next as this one is nigh on to killing me. But if I think about it, so did the last lesson. And it took me roughly 20 years to figure it out. Ugh

    • Todd Hansen says:

      Oh man – Trent – yeah …
      Vince’s devo today, and the song, and your words, are reminding me powerfully of the truth of our condition and status before God. Because we have trusted Jesus, we’ve given him permission to have his way in us, and his way is to be constantly conforming us into his image. He is relentless – and jealous – for us to become little Christs. Not because he wants to beat us up or make life difficult or punish us for our past, but because we were designed to be like him and for that to be completely fulfilling, our highest joy, our ultimate destiny. And he is willing to do whatever it takes to get us there. When we’re struggling with it, it’s not because of his absence, it’s because of his presence. So I pray for your struggle today – for endurance and for the recognition that Jesus is with you and for you. All this is for your joy and his glory, brother. God, bless Trent with renewed trust and increased desire to be like Jesus!

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