Lovest Thou Me? Part 1

John 21  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 4
Listen from:
John 21
Sometimes the Lord speaks to us unexpectedly by circumstances. Peter had heard the words, “It is the Lord;” and with a bound he sprang into the sea, and swam to shore. But what must he have felt when he saw a fire of coals there? Would not his heart beat as he looked back to that other fire of coals at which he stood to warm himself? Yes, at the fire of coals where he had thrice denied his Lord. Let us look at that fire of coals and then at this. It is a fire of coals in the high priest’s house. Terrible things have been done in high priest’s houses and bishop’s palaces. But there stands bound the Lord of glory, humbling Himself to the lowest place of degradation, in infinite love to us. It is written of Him in the Psalms,
“I looked on My right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know Me: refuge failed Me; no man cared for My soul.” Psa. 142:44I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. (Psalm 142:4). What, not Peter the bold he who had said a few hours before,
“Lord, I am ready to go with Thee, both into prison and to death.”
“I will lay down my life for Thy sake.” “Though all men should be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended”? Well did the Lord know both the power of temptation, and Peter’s weakness.
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Now mark the different steps in Peter’s fall.
“And Peter followed afar off.”
Are we following Jesus afar off? Then, like Peter, we are on the way to a fall. Mark this warning. And when they had kindled a fire of coals, did Peter stand with the despised and rejected Jesus? No;
“Peter sat down with them.”
Are we standing with the rejected and despised Jesus? or have we sat down to find our rest and comfort with that wicked world which hates our Lord? If this be so, we are already fallen. What a picture,—Jesus mocked with cruel hatred by the religious world, and Peter sat down to warm himself with them!
Is it not so in this day? How many Peters! Surely, if we sit down with this world, we may then and there deny our Lord. Thrice did Peter deny Him then and there. How often have we?
Now look at Jesus. See that look of tender love! This is the first step in Peter’s restoration, or conversion—that is, in turning him from self-confident Peter to dependence on Christ. That look of infinite, unchangeable love went right to the heart of Peter, and sent him straight from the fire of coals, to go out and weep bitterly. Take another look at Jesus.
“And the men that held Jesus mocked Him, and smote Him. And when they had blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face.”
Such is the hatred of man, and such the love and patience of Him who came to lay down His life for us.
“O, patient, spotless One.”
We will now pass on to the shore of Tiberias. You see that little boat out there, a little way from the shore. In it there are a few of those very disciples who all forsook Jesus and fled. The captain of that little bark is the bold, self-confident Peter, whom we lately saw so sadly humbled when sitting by the fire of coals. They have not caught a single fish all that weary night. As the morning began to break, they saw someone watching them, standing on the shore. He cares for them. He even asks if they have any food. He bids them cast the net on the right side of the ship. They obeyed, and a multitude of fishes were taken in the net. It was now plain to one of them whom Jesus loved, that it was the Lord. The captain—Peter—heard that word: it was enough. There is still a little of the old natural boldness—he must be first to reach his Lord, and he sprang into the sea. No doubt there was also deep, ardent love to Jesus.
But that fire of coals: ah, and that other fire of coals a few nights before. How often the Lord humbles our hearts in this way. Have we not been thus humbled often, when taking a shade of pre-eminence over our brethren? Ah, a moment’s remembrance often bows our hearts in deep confession before Him.
Nobody knows what did take place between the Lord and Peter, when He first appeared to Peter. (i Cor. 15:5). The Lord graciously kept that private between Himself and His fallen servant. Is it not so with us and the Lord?
Well, by this time they had all pulled to shore. And let us not forget this is the last scene with the Lord Jesus, narrated in the Word of God—the very last, the closing words of revelation. The Gospel of John was written last. They had all forsaken Him. Yes, He was alone before God when eternal redemption was accomplished.
“As soon, then, as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.”
Cold and hungry, and having toiled all night—but we do not read that they had thought of Him. He could not cease to care for them; He could not cease to love them; He could not cease to provide for them. They had not to wait until He kindled the fire, or baked the bread, or cooked the fish; there was plenty ready, and they might also bring of what they had taken, at His word. Is not this Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever? O, how sweet those words that fell from His lips— “Come and dine.”
What infinite resources we have in our precious Jesus—God manifest in the flesh. And though Jesus is now in resurrection, and ascension glory, He delights as ever to serve us.
“Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.”
(To be continued)