It’s the familiar swing on the porch as you pull into the drive, a homemade pie emerging from the oven, or that 70’s tune on a passing advertisement. A single sight, smell, or sound has the unique ability to bring you back to the time, place, and moment of your memory.
Peter was a man of many memories. He grew up Jewish, hearing the stories and celebrating the traditions of God’s chosen people, the Israelites. His fishing profession generated countless tales of long nights and damaged nets. He would have collected a lifetime of memories with his wife and family as well.
And then he met Jesus.
I’m sure his memories of the Messiah were most vivid: the day his brother Andrew invited him (John 1:40-42), the moment Jesus called him (Mark 1:16-18), the time the Lord healed his mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39).
He witnessed the miracle at the wedding (John 2:1-11), the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21), the raising of the deceased Lazarus (John 11:1-44). Simon Peter walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33), beheld Christ transfigured (17:1-8), and watched the dead come back to life (Mark 5:35-43).
Peter sat at the feet of Jesus’ teaching, followed His footsteps around the region, and declared his loyalty to the end of time.
And then denied his Master three times on the night when it mattered most.
Peter vowed allegiance, then fled at the first sight of danger. He shadowed at a distance, then faltered when questioned. He stood warming himself by a charcoal fire, a stone’s throw away from his Lord, yet so far.
Scripture records in detail Peter’s greatest failure (very possibly his worst memory).
Christ is crucified and buried. Peter is left to grieve every opportunity he missed, misstep he took, and transgression he committed.
Jesus is raised, but Peter is still lost. He decides to go fishing, and the rest join, catching nothing all night (John 21:1-3).
Morning dawns, and Jesus appears on shore, calling to them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. They heap in the catch and sit down for breakfast … around a charcoal fire (4-12).
Again around the fire, again with his Lord, Peter must have been brought back. Jesus questions him the same amount of times he previously denied Him. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Exasperated, Peter concedes, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love you” (15-17).
God’s Provision: Jesus knew Peter’s heart, that despite his frailness, humanness, and weakness, he was a willing servant who loved his Master. He forgave his sin, restored him to service, and continued to use him.
Peter’s story is also mine: falling short when I should be stepping up, sinning when I wish not to, buckling under pressure when it matters most. But like Peter, I appeal to the Savior in every charcoal fire moment and memory:
Word (Phrase) of the Week: You knew me then. You know me now. You know that I love you.