Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself. John 18:18
Listening to a Bible teaching on the restoration of Peter, I have a scene stuck in my mind. Peter standing at the fire with the “rest of the boys” thinking he is cool, just hanging out and with the opportunity to show his allegiance to Jesus, he fails. Previously we remember Peter as the one saying “I will lay down my life for you”, John 13:37 with the response from Jesus being, “before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times! John 13:38. Here in John 18:27 at the charcoal fire, that is exactly what happened. “Again Peter denied it (knowing Jesus), and at that moment a rooster began to crow.”
Even though the story has a “happy ending”, where Peter is humbled and Jesus restores him, in my humanity I have to think about the time between when he denied Jesus and the time in John 21 when Jesus restores Peter. Every time he heard the sound of a rooster crowing it must felt like his heart was ripping to pieces. I can relate. Every time a see a motorcycle zip by me on the highway, or hear the sound of a fire engine siren, my heart sinks. We all have those triggers of painful memories, of times where we wish we could go back and do it or say it again but differently. With Peter, I can imagine the sound of that rooster crowing, which is probably every morning, and the brokenness in his heart to know he is not what he wanted to be for Christ. Same for me. Seeing a motorcycle, I wonder where I failed. Why? I cry often. Why all of this pain and struggle in our relationship for so long and he dies on a motorcycle just like you told me? I can remember the day, James home after breaking his leg in a motorcycle accident and I said to him “You are gonna kill yourself on that thing and then what?! Where will that leave us?!” Like Peter, we both didn’t want to believe it, somehow we would be bigger than it, but it happens and now every time we hear the “rooster crow” we will be reminded of God’s warning and our failure.
But gratefully the story doesn’t end there, because in John 21 the boys are out fishing again and Jesus is on the shore yelling to cast their nets on the other side. Peter recognizes Jesus and “when they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.” Jesus takes Peter back to that awful scene at the charcoal fire where he denied him and brings healing in it.
The restoration of Peter from charcoal fire of denial to charcoal fire of deliverance, gives me hope. One day, the zip of a motorcycle or the siren of a fire engine God will use to set me free. I believe it!
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18