Sunday, August 21 – “The Place of Hot Burning Coals”

Sunday, August 21 – “The Place of Hot Burning Coals”

View this recorded version of Sunday Worship from August 21, 2022.

Bible Verses

John 21: 1-17 (Jesus Reinstates Peter)

Reflection: The Place of Hot Burning Coals

Excerpts from the sermon by Rev. Dr. Fred Grewe:

“Jesus helps Peter face his own imperfections and flaws.

Peter declares ‘I’ve got your back Jesus’.

[But] after that third time (of denials), Jesus looked right at Peter. Oh, I can’t imaging how he felt; he really must of felt shame and embarrassment and just devastated that he couldn’t keep his promise.

Now, fast forward, it’s after the resurrection–they’ve been out fishing on the lake, and they come in with their catch of fish and they didn’t recognize it was Jesus. And Jesus was sitting at that place (‘anthrakia’) of hot burning coals.

And so Jesus has brought Peter back to the place of his failure and his shame. He’s intentionally brought him back here and now three times he’s going to ask Peter: ‘Do you love me?’

The Greeks had four different words for this concept of love. Erotic love, romantic love. The love that a mother or father has for their child. The love brothers have for each other. And then there’s Agape, the fourth word for love: I cherish you, I love you perfectly and purely.

I would suggest that a lot of this is very similar to the Buddhist concept of Karma. The idea of Karma is that you continually get the teachings you need to open your heart.

Karma is: you’re going to keep running into the same emotionally difficult situations until you learn how to [overcome] them, to go through them with grace; until you learn the lessons they have to teach you.

Here’s the deal. If Jesus had not brought Peter back to the place of hot burning coals, Peter could have lived the rest of his life feeling like a failure–when He needed me most, I let Him down. You can’t trust what I say; you can’t believe me. I can’t follow through with my words. I’m a loser. I mean well but I don’t have what it takes to follow through. [Peter] could have lived the rest of his life in shame and feeling disconnected from the rest of the friends of Jesus.

But Jesus would not let him do that. So he brings him back to this place… not to shame Peter, not to rub it in, but to rub it out, to erase it–so that Peter would have healing… to know that he was accepted by Jesus, that he is forgiven. But I think even more importantly so that Peter could forgive himself. Because when it comes to this task of forgiving, often, the most difficult person we have to forgive is ourselves. Forgiving ourselves is vitally important.

[Peter] now is in a place where he can take care of Jesus’ lambs and sheep. Where he has a humility about him. He has received grace. He’s received healing. Now he can go give that away to the lambs and the sheep of Jesus.

And until we wrestle our own demons and come to that place where we have been brought to the place of hot burning coals and experienced the love of God and made reconciliation with ourselves. Then we are useful to our sisters and our brothers and those who walk this way with us.”